This report is being published at a time of great opportunity in health care. Legislation passed in March 2010 will provide insurance coverage for 32 million more Americans. The implications of this new demand on the nation’s health care system are significant. How can the system accommodate the increased demand while improving the quality of health care services provided to the American public?
Nursing represents the largest sector of the health professions, with more than 3 million registered nurses in the United States. The question presented to the committee that produced this report was: What roles can nursing assume to address the increasing demand for safe, high-quality, and effective health care services? In the near term, the new health care laws identify great challenges in the management of chronic conditions, primary care (including care coordination and transitional care), prevention and wellness, and the prevention of adverse events (such as hospital-acquired infections). The demand for better provision of mental health services, school health services, long-term care, and palliative care (including end-of-life care) is increasing as well. Whether improvements in all these areas of care will slow the rate of growth in health care expenditures remains to be seen; however, experts believe they will result in better health outcomes.