Nurse practitioners have mixed feelings about ACOs

As a result of new healthcare regulations, accountable care organizations (ACO) will begin to take over the face of the medical industry in the next year. Nurse practitioners have expressed mixed feelings about this new development as they are unsure how they will be included and affected.

According to Kaiser Health News, ACOs are initiative-based networks of healthcare providers. These organizations have been developed as a means of assuring quality services to patients while keeping costs down. In ACOs, primary-care physicians, specialists and hospitals all work together.

The way that bills are currently written does not recognize nurse practitioners as primary-care providers, reports Nurse.com. As there is expected to be a shortage of general practitioners over the upcoming decades, the importance of the role of nurse practitioners needs to be emphasized. Industry organizations, such as the American Nurses Association (ANA), are calling for more specific language to be used in ACO reform bills.

"The focus is that we support the goals of nursing integration into ACOs, but the language specific to care coordination is a concern," said Lisa Summers, an ANA representative. "The care coordinator should be a health professional from any of several different disciplines for most patients; however, for many, a registered nurse is often the best care coordinator."

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