Fierce Healthcare recently posted a story on the role of nurses in the successful implementation of Accountable Care Organizations (ACO). As many healthcare entities start calculating the qualification costs of being an ACO, it is clear that if you want your ACO to operate as efficiently and effectively as billed, you’d better pay some attention to your nurses. Firstly, they comprise the vast majority of physical touch points in daily patient life. These events represent numerous opportunities to influence the patient experience, ranging from something good to something really, really bad. They are also integral to the process flow and in the creation of care plans, facilitating a patient’s stay and helping them to avoid a trip back. Now with ACO requirements calling for an EMR implementation, you can also expect to see electronic data entry added to their list of required competencies as well.
Nurses were never asked to shoulder these extra responsibilities within the healthcare process. The needs arose and they responded. Be that as it may, these expanded tasks are beginning to shed more light on the question of competency.
Competency management is the buzz phrase, but between organizations there seems to be very different perspectives on what exactly it entails and how to measure it. Ten years ago, the Learning Management System (LMS) was considered to be the primary tool for keeping a nursing staff competent. Hospitals would typically require a minimum level of coursework to meet government compliance, but stopped right there. Today, with the expanded role that nurses play, your competency management strategy needs to have a lot more than just an LMS. A regular evaluation of the hands-on delivery of care needs to be part of the review process. The only challenge is that it can’t take a significant burden of time and effort to capture it. Think tablets and smartphones.
Portfolios need to play a bigger role in the competency process as well. They are the portal into the competency picture of each and every individual and should be regularly updated with as much automation as possible. A nurse’s latest transcripts, their evaluations, completed checklists, patient stories and even certifications can populate automatically as they are earned, making it even easier to have the most up to date portfolio as possible.
When you can bring these elements together into one place, summarized in a clean dashboard of easy to understand ratings, the competency picture for an individual nurse or the entire organization is always at hand.