Importance of RNs in Care Coordination of Older Patients

Registered nurses will play an important role in nursing in the future. Registered nurses will not only be involved in bedside nurses but will play a critical role in coordinating care for patients. As patients age their need for care coordination increases.

When I was first involved in case management around 1985 very few nurses had any idea what case management was and how it helped to decrease costs for those receiving case management. Now when I talk with other nurses they are either involved in providing case management or certainly know what case management is about and what a case manager does. The terms case management and care coordination are often used somewhat interchangeably to describe the same activities.

As the population ages so does health care spending. As Americans live longer they are living with more chronic health conditions. These chronic health conditions include diabetes, arthritis, hypertension, lung disease, heart disease, cancer, and stroke. According to the National Council on Aging about 92% of older Americans have one or more chronic disease with greater than 75% having more than one chronic condition. Of the money spent by our nation on health care, 75% is for chronic diseases.

This increase in chronic disease and multiple chronic diseases by individuals presents a challenge for Medicare and other health care payers. This creates an opportunity for registered nurses to be involved with care coordination to help to reduce per capita spending while at the same time improving the overall health of individuals receiving care coordination.

A focus on outcomes and the patient health care experience is vitally important for effective care coordination. Registered nurses are relieving some of the burden of primary care physicians as they take on the responsibility of coordinating car and addressing the non-medical needs of their patients. Care coordination by registered nurses is viewed as critical important and nurses are trusted to fulfil this role with little or no supervision by physicians.

Nurses are perceived as being professionals who are versatile enough to bridge the gaps between the social, mental, and physical needs of their patients. Registered nurses are seen as the best professionals to decide how to use the resources related to care coordination and which patients would benefit from these services.

It is clear that the American health care system will need nurses to provide the important role of care coordinator now and in the future especially to patients with more than one chronic disease. The demand for nurses in this role is expected to increase in the future as the population ages and experiences more chronic disease. If you are interested in being on the leading edge of this new and growing field of nursing, look into opportunities that currently exist and start hour career as a care coordinator now!

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Scholz, J., Minaudo, J., (September 30, 2015) “Registered Nurse Care Coordination: Creating a Preferred Future for Older Adults with Multimorbidity

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