Reshaping Today’s Bedside Care Team to Meet Tomorrow’s Challenges

Dec 26, 2013, 1:00 PM

The traditional bedside care team must evolve over the next five years in response to significant changes facing the U.S. health care system, according to the American Hospital Association (AHA), which recently convened a roundtable devoted to the issue.

“Reconfiguring the Bedside Care Team of the Future,” a white paper summarizing the discussion, points to several factors driving changes, including 25 million new patients entering the system as a result of the Affordable Care Act, an aging and increasingly diverse population, and more patients experiencing multiple conditions and acute episodes.

The discussion generated more than 40 ideas, which led to the establishment of six principles:

  1. The patient and family are essential members of the core care team.
  2. Bedside care team members are fully engaged at the broadest scope of their practice.
  3. The bedside care team is focused, highly effective, and autonomous, coordinating communication with the patient and family.
  4. Evidence-based guidelines that improve care are developed and consistently followed by every bedside care team member.
  5. Technology replaces some clinical tasks, augmenting decision-making and complementing the clinical judgment of the care team.
  6. Patients needing acute care move safely through the health care system no matter where they are in the care cycle—whether at the onset of disease, in the middle of community-based care, or at the end of life.

The white paper identifies likely paradigm changes related to the six principles, including shorter acute care stays that move acute care away from the center of the care delivery system; the rise of care in community-based settings; and changing provider roles and responsibilities, particularly for advanced practice nurses, pharmacists, and some therapy providers, who are seeking advanced certifications to expand their scope of practice.

Read coverage of the white paper, including commentary from Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Executive Nurse Fellows program alumnus Michael Bleich, PhD, RN, FAAN, in Becker’s Clinical Quality & Infection Control.

This commentary originally appeared on the RWJF Human Capital Blog. The views and opinions expressed here are those of the authors.