The healthcare industry has changed continuously over the past few years. However, the pace of change has increased faster than expected as the US dealt with rising healthcare demands and the aging baby boomer population. These existing challenges have supercharged the need for qualified individuals to treat adult and older patients, lead hospitals and apply policy changes.
Adult-gerontology acute care nurse practitioners (AGACNPs) must anticipate these trends and opportunities to quickly identify transparent and objective areas for better patient care. AGACNPs are challenged fundamentally by demographics, chronic diseases and societal demand.
This ultimately leads to significant budget pressure on the healthcare system. Understanding key healthcare trends and opportunities empowers AGACNPs to anticipate problems before they occur, determine future patient needs and deliver improved quality care.
Aging baby boomer population
As mentioned above, an aging baby boomer population presents both an opportunity and a challenge for AGACNPs. According to recent data, the oldest members of this generation retired in 2012, while others are expected to follow suit by 2030. Most people within this age group will likely rely on healthcare plans for post-retirement healthcare. Additionally, the same data reveals that the average life expectancy of these baby boomers is increasing.
Although the additional demand on the US healthcare system impacts the profession in various ways, this growth specifically impacts the AGACNP role in terms of supply and demand. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that the demand for AGACNPs will increase by 16% next year. This increase will add roughly 439,000 job opportunities for nurses specializing in adult gerontology and acute care.
This means that an AGACNP is one of the top specializations to which a nurse practitioner can advance. With the nursing industry already facing an incredible personnel shortage, AGACNPs are needed more than ever to provide comprehensive patient monitoring and create complex treatment plans that concentrate on preventing complications and improving overall health. Doing so empowers them to detect and treat chronic diseases early and increase the likelihood of preventing the next pandemic.
Telehealth assists AGACNPs in providing better care
Telehealth has been around for a long time. However, it began to spread only when the pandemic hit, and many adult patients have tried it and stuck around. According to recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data, telehealth visits surged by 154% from March 2019 to March 2020. This will only grow, as 35% of Americans have expressed that they would consider permanently replacing in-person visits with on-demand online healthcare.
Whether one sees this as a positive or not, transitioning from in-person to virtual follow-ups has revolutionized how AGACNP professionals do their jobs in more ways than one. AGACNPs are the initial point of contact for adult patients when seeking healthcare. They can also be the primary source of health education and long-term medical tracking in several healthcare institutions. With millions of Americans gaining access to healthcare on average and an aging population, it is no surprise that the medical industry faces a nursing shortage.
Because of the shortage, adult patients take longer to heal and recover. What makes this even worse is that this scarcity has also led to other patient safety issues while significantly impacting mortality rates. Thanks to the advancement of telehealth technologies, AGACNPs can make themselves available to various patients. Data reveals that telehealth consultations take 20% less time than in-person visits, saving nurses more time between appointments. Since telehealth appointments let nurses spend less time charting and moving between patients, they can engage in more one-on-one interactions with patients and provide them with more personalized care.
Portable diagnostics allow AGACNPs to provide easier healthcare access
With the rapid growth of healthcare services in the US, it is no surprise that portable diagnostics have started to gain traction within nursing circles. Using portable diagnostics, AGACNPs can measure health parameters and vital signs in minutes, enabling them to care for a patient more quickly.
Traditionally, measuring health parameters such as heartbeat is done using massive and oversized machines in a laboratory. With the emergence of portable diagnostics, AGACNPs can get the information they need to make a diagnosis promptly. Most of these tools can even upload readings online to be shared with advanced clinical professionals for further assessment. Such portable technologies significantly improve access to care in remote areas and facilities lacking specialists.
Portable diagnostics also enable high-risk patients to remain in their living situations. Doing so enables AGACNP professionals to minimize unnecessary hospital visits while reducing transportation needs and potential exposure to transmittable diseases. For example, an AGACNP professional can now follow up on the vitals of a COVID-19-positive patient and listen to their lung sounds. This lets them gather essential patient data and send it to a physician to monitor the patient’s status properly.
Online education makes it easier to upskill
The nursing industry is never constant. So, AGACNPs must upskill and take MSN AGACNP courses from prestigious academic institutions such as Rockhurst University Online to ensure that their knowledge and skills are updated with the current adult care standards. Upskilling enables AGACNP professionals to make accurate clinical judgments and work autonomously.
Thanks to technological advancements, AGACNPs can upskill without undermining their existing tasks by taking courses online. Depending on your chosen academic institution, online AGACNP courses will tackle several aspects of practice, including advanced pharmacology, physiology and pathophysiology. This gives you an extensive background to diagnose patients, prescribe medicines and ensure positive patient outcomes.
Becoming a forward-thinking AGACNP today
AGACNPs work endlessly to identify and protect individual needs throughout the patient experience. From ensuring the most precise treatment options and diagnosis to the continuous education of patients and their families about vital medical health problems, they are indispensable in protecting public health.
However, they must be agile to stay abreast of these challenges as the healthcare industry undergoes policy and professional changes. Staying a step ahead empowers them to implement measures to ensure efficiency and deliver better healthcare outcomes.