Today, most people seek healthcare through their primary care physician, but health systems across the country are looking to change this by adopting population health management strategies to better serve their patients. Health systems hope to deliver quality care more efficiently, while also emphasizing preventive care with the PHM model.
For the shift to PHM to be a success, it will require a multidisciplinary team, including nurses who are expected to play a growing role in the future of population heath management, according to Claire Zangerle, MSN, MBA, RN, president and CNO for the Visiting Nurse Association in Cleveland, Ohio. She also is an appointed board member for the American Organization of Nurse Executives.
“This shift in care delivery focuses on partnerships across the healthcare settings and addressing specific health needs of particular populations,” said Zangerle, who leads on an AONE taskforce along with Bob Dent, DNP, MBA, RN, NEA-BC, CENP, FACHE, COO at Midland Memorial Hospital, Texas.
The task force met to identify recommendations for educational programs that would prepare CNOs for PHM.
According to Zangerle, nurses will be in the position to teach and empower entire populations of patients through workshops and printed materials. They can stress preventive measures including primary, secondary and tertiary prevention.
“As an advocate for community health needs and patients, nurse executives will be serving as agents of change in this effort,” Zangerle said. “Our task force looked at the specific skills and competencies that nurses will need in order to effectively help to launch and manage a population health program.”
Competencies identified to lead PHM by the task force include:
- Effective communication, including excellent negotiation skills
- Relationship management, including asserting views in nonjudgmental, nonthreatening ways
- Diversity, including creating an environment that recognizes and values differences in staff, patients, families and providers.
“Our task force put together a list of education programs that can help nurses gain the knowledge they need to be visionary thinkers in this new model of care,” Zangerle said. “There are everything from graduate to certificate programs available, and nurses will need to self-determine which class or program would best help them to acquire the knowledge they need to assist in leading PHM efforts.”
There are other programs throughout the U.S., but some programs that have been developed recently include:
- The Duke University Population Care Coordinator Certificate program
- Loyola University RN-MSN online program
- Xavier University in Population Health.
With the renewed focus on health promotion and prevention programs aimed at the population of patients as a whole, Dent said not only can clinical nurse leaders benefit from increasing their knowledge of population health, but they also can mentor their staff and encourage them to increase their knowledge of population health.
“Several years ago, nurse informatics specialists weren’t around,” Dent said. “I envision the same demand in a few years with nurses who have training and experience in population health.”
Here’s the full list of competencies.