Current Trends in Nursing 2016
As the nation celebrates Nurses Week 2016, let’s take a look at a few of the trends that will continue impacting our nursing professionals who are working on the frontlines of healthcare. While it is clear that the healthcare industry, in general, will continue its evolution throughout the rest of this decade and beyond, one could also say that nurses bear the most weight of this changing landscape. Demand for services continue to rise, more states will move toward mandatory nurse-to-patient ratios, aging population demographics mean more patients with chronic health conditions to care for, and technological breakthroughs are forcing nurses to adapt to new methods of care. These emerging trends are in no particular order, but each will play a role in the outlook for nurses throughout the next year.
Remote Patient Monitoring. As with many of the industry trend reports that are published year over year, the theme of technology is one constant. In 2016, nurses are finding themselves engaged in the remote collection of data from patients. Remote Patient Monitoring (RPM) is growing in appeal for many hospitals to address post-discharge support in the patient’s home. Today, penalties are assessed for hospitals that fall below the threshold of 30-day readmissions, and year-to-date 75% of hospitals are facing the penalty. The technology is advancing rapidly as cardiac care patients can receive an implantable electronic device that transmits critical data to the provider. Other technologies are wearable and can monitor multiple physiological parameters of a patient. As time goes on, these devices will become a critical piece of the puzzle in achieving the desired outcome of reduced readmissions.
Wearable Technology. In the coming years, patients won’t be the only ones being outfitted with wearable technology. On the flip side of the remote monitoring, will be tomorrow’s nurse wearing technology that aids them in collecting data and assessing a patient’s condition. Google Glass is being piloted at several hospitals around the country and is expected to become a mainstream device for accessing a patient's electronic medical records and other critical data while allowing the nurse to remain hands-free. Another projected use for having wearable technology designed for nursing professionals is to monitor them during a shift. The device will allow a supervisor to receive alerts about a particular staff member who is becoming fatigued and potentially get them relief before an error is made.
Community Nursing. For years now the constant conversation about finding ways to reduce the costs of healthcare have yielded mixed results. As the Affordable Care Act has shifted the payment models for providers to a value-based model, health systems are aggressively pursuing lower-cost care options. One strategy is acquiring or affiliating with smaller community hospitals. Patients are receiving non-emergent care closer to their home while beds are opened up at the major hospital centers for those in need of the most intense care. Other community-based options being explored by health systems are “bedless” hospitals. These are multi-specialty facilities that provide emergency care, operating rooms, and a variety of sub-specialties. The care centers have reduced waiting times, and patients are more satisfied with the “one stop shop” aspect of their visit. What you won’t find at one of these facilities are in-patient services. All of these changes are providing opportunities for nurses to work in a variety of care settings. Another area of growth for nurses in the community are in home healthcare.
Alternative Therapies. Today’s nurse is already highly skilled, trained, and educated in the ways of traditional medical care, however, they will be receiving an increase in the amount of training and education they receive in alternative therapies. This is due in large part to a growing acceptance of making complementary and alternative therapies part of the modern care plan. More Americans already visit complementary medical providers (for example, chiropractic or acupuncture services) more than their primary care physician. Also, the use of herbal remedies and high-dose vitamins are surging among Americans. All of this has led to nursing schools adding alternative therapy studies to their nursing curricula and those in the field pursuing continuing education opportunities. This is only expected to increase as alternative, herbal, and other complementary forms of therapeutic intervention become part of the norm.
Other trends that are sure to have an impact on the nursing profession include an increasing demand for travel nurses, more opportunities for nurses to become nurse educators, and a continuing increase in caring for patients with chronic illness. Nursing is annually ranked in the top ten most respected professions in America, and it is easy to see why. As the healthcare industry continues to evolve under the pressure of legislation, increased regulation, and demand for cost reductions, our nurses will always be the Face of Caring. Tell us what factors or trends that you can see shaping the field of nursing over the next year. Leave us a comment in the section below or visit us on Facebook and leave us your thoughts.