Nurses – key partners for innovation and the future of health

Nurses – key partners for innovation and the future of health

Posted on January 17, 2017

People at the centre, implies nurses, patients at the centre. There will be no better health outcome if we do not support frontline more. Asking them to collect more data, useless data, will drive them away from frontline care. We will get the opposite results. Therefore, the EFN calls on the patient organisations and health professionals to build strong alliances to jointly agree on health system reform, regardless what Ministers and International Institutions will decide on value based health outcomes measurements. We will definitely need to build strong alliances to reform in a non-disruptive way.  But where do policy-makers fit, where do politicians fit, where does industry fit in this story. Who drives who?

While having different national health and social care systems, the EU Member States should share the same values for health and social care: universality, solidarity, equity; values driving the daily efforts of 6 million nurses in the EU. But are these values part of austerity? Are these values part of the new disruptive models decided by people who never cared about one patient? However, responding to the increasing public demand for quality, safety, equity and access to health care, nurses are very concerned as the sustainability equation is challenging proper investments in health and nursing care. Since 2008 we only saw cuts, not investments!

Meeting in Paris, on 16 January 2017, at the OECD Headquarters, for the Policy Forum on the Future of Health, the EFN was interested to learn how healthcare systems can be better organised around the needs, preferences and capabilities. As nurses have a key role to play both in managing and preventing those conditions, as they are in the unique and privileged position of having direct access to the daily people’s care needs and an in-depth knowledge of the fluctuations of diseases across the care trajectory, solutions should reflect nurses views. Solutions without engaging frontline are no solutions. The EFN has shown this through the design of eHealth services, building on 120 existing cost-effective practices, leading to new and changing roles for nurses, as health coaches, and as case manager. ENS4Care identifies many existing good practices in various areas such as different forms of rehabilitation (cardiac rehabilitation, COPD rehabilitation), prevention of malnutrition and social isolation, prevention of heart diseases, to name a few. Furthermore, in today’s digital era, sharing, gathering and easy access to personal information is our reality. The new challenges of the social health care systems are privacy of health information, institutional and cultural barriers to create people-centred health systems, engaging providers and professionals in the required change. Health care systems collect huge quantities of data, but limited information on the impact and results, on the people they serve. As such, policies usually have a very economic approach towards value-driven health ecosystems, it is crucial that the measurement of “outcomes” are designed with and for patients, and to focus on more robust health outcomes measurement (including nursing sensitive data) to improve the quality of care for patients, strengthen public health interventions, and contributing to the wider economic goals and societal well-being

As a key player at EU level the EFN will follow this OECD debate closely, and will question the contribution of the European Commission, to make sure health systems are more people-centred, and give more recognition to the frontline nurses, stressing the role of leadership and international collaboration, within a more integrated multidisciplinary approach of health care professionals. Nurses, with the right knowledge and skills, are a considerable added value and form an important link between technological innovation, health promotion and disease prevention.

And last but not least, listening to the political debate today, what struck me most is the presentation and views of women. Women, regardless their post, minister, consultant, or patient, they all made the debate richer, more powerful. Women are able to link complex political debates to daily reality, translate it in easy words, pragmatic proposals. Do not take gender for granted! Integrate gender into the solution. It will lead to success.