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Clinical Nurse Specialists Uniquely Qualified to Ensure High Quality Cost-Effective Health Care Essential to Meeting Nation’s Needs

New White Paper Provides Evidence Linking Clinical Nurse Specialists to Improved Outcomes for Patients, Reduced Costs for Health Care System

Implementation of the Affordable Care Act is well underway and the resulting increases in the demand for health care have made delivering high quality, cost-effective care more important than ever. A new White Paper released by the National Association of Clinical Nurse Specialists (NACNS) provides evidence that Clinical Nurse Specialists (CNSs) have the advanced nursing education, skills and expertise necessary to meet the increased demand for health care and ensure the provision of quality care.

A body of scientific research and several demonstration projects have shown that CNSs are uniquely suited to lead health care institutions’ efforts to implement programs, practices and interventions that will improve care quality and reduce cost in a variety of practice areas.

The NACNS White Paper provides evidence of CNSs’ key roles in improving outcomes and reducing costs for: prenatal care; preventive and wellness care; care to reduce depression; chronic conditions; preventing hospital-acquired conditions (HACs); reducing lengths of stays in acute and community care centers; and preventing readmissions.

Among the findings:

  • CNSs providing prenatal home care improved outcomes for pregnant women at high risk for delivering low birth-weight babies;
  • CNSs improved access to wellness and preventive services for people at risk for chronic diseases, such as diabetes and heart failure, through early identification of these individuals;
  • In private practice and as part of health care teams, CNSs implemented interventions that increased recognition of depression and provided effective behavioral health care to reduce depression;
  • CNSs effectively promoted self-care for patients with chronic conditions, reducing costs of treating the conditions and readmissions;
  • CNSs successfully led efforts to implement programs that dramatically reduced HACs in acute care settings;
  • CNSs implemented practices in acute care and community-based settings that significantly decreased patients’ length of stay; and
  • CNSs coordinated, implemented and evaluated plans that improved patient care and prevented readmissions for a variety of conditions.

“The CNS has long been a crucial member of the health care team,” said NACNS President Carol Manchester. “That role is only going to become more central as the Affordable Care Act is rolled out. The dramatic increase in the number of people with access to health care services and provisions like penalties for high readmission rates for Medicaid recipients will push health care providers to take all possible measures to improve the quality of patient care and reduce costs. CNSs have the education and the skills to help institutions achieve these goals. They provide diagnosis, treatment, and ongoing management of patients. They also provide expertise and support to nurses caring for patients at the bedside, help drive practice changes throughout the organization, and ensure the use of best practices and evidence-based care to achieve the best possible patient outcomes.”

Read the White Paper here.

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