The Role of APRNs In the Patient Experience

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For decades, healthcare providers have been working to reconcile the patient experience with the evolution of healthcare consumerism to provide care that focuses on quality, satisfaction and reduced costs, also known as the Triple Aim healthcare initiative.

Nurses visiting patient bedside

Across the United States, advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) are taking forward-looking roles in the patient experience by practicing as family nurse practitioners (FNPs). To date, 25 states and the District of Columbia have granted FNPs the right to autonomous practice and prescriptive authority. As principal providers of primary healthcare services, FNPs are heeding the call to meet the future demands of healthcare.

Meredith Lahl, executive director/associate chief nursing officer of advanced practice nursing for the Cleveland Clinic Health System, said patients who were treated by an APRN reported positive experiences similar to those treated by a physician.

“Additionally, patient satisfaction scores tend to be equal or higher with APRNs, and the cost of APRN care is often lower,” she said.

Studies show FNPs are filling vital roles in the U.S. healthcare system by providing lower-cost care and closing the gaps in the primary care provider shortage. APRNs who want to further contribute to the patient experience are encouraged to seek an online Post-Master’s Certificate in Family (Individual Across the Lifespan) Nurse Practitioner. The MSN curriculum and post master’s FNP online at Duquesne University prepares nurses for national certification exams and licensure.

The Role of the Patient Experience in Healthcare

Healthcare professionals have long sought patient-centered care as a means to patient satisfaction and positive patient experiences. However, the patient experience movement didn’t formally gain traction until the early 2000s after the Institute of Medicine published its groundbreaking report, “Crossing the quality chasm: A new health system for the 21st century,” which called for a renewed focus on patient-centered care.

In 2008, the Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI) developed the Triple Aim initiative as a framework for better healthcare outcomes and system performance. The three goals of the initiative—improving the patient experience of care, improving population health and reducing healthcare costs—are patient-focused and “motivated by the reality that the U.S. has the world’s most expensive healthcare system, but fares poorly on many international comparisons of health outcomes,” the IHI said.

By 2010, all three components—the IOM’s report, the Triple Aim initiative and the patient experience movement—played a significant role in the development of the Affordable Care Act, which linked Medicare hospital reimbursement to patient satisfaction.

Today, patient satisfaction is measured through the Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HCAHPS). The goals of HCAHPS are to produce meaningful data about patients’ perspectives of care, incentivize hospitals to improve the quality of care and enhance accountability in healthcare through transparency.

APRNs Make Positive Changes in the Patient Experience

Studies have shown APRNs, including FNPs, produce positive outcomes similar to or better than physicians across the spectrum of medical disciplines.

One study published in Human Resources for Health found APRNs have a positive impact on quality of care, patient satisfaction, clinical outcomes and the costs in emergency and critical care settings, which is important as the population ages and chronic diseases become more prevalent. One portion of the study found patient satisfaction depended not on who delivered the care, but how it was provided.

“NPs were rated to perform better at patient education, answering queries, listening and pain management than physicians,” the study authors found.

Those positive outcomes are evident as change sweeps across the country, Susanne J. Phillips, DNP, said in her 30th Annual Legislative Update in the January 2018 issue of The Nurse Practitioner. In addition to NPs being granted full-practice authority in a growing number of states, 15 states adopted the APRN Consensus Model in 2017, which advocates for uniformity in the APRN role. Also in 2017, legislators granted NPs the authority to be co-owners of medical practices in Oregon and to be reimbursed for telemedical services in Vermont.

Another way APRNs are enacting positive changes in the healthcare system is by earning a post-master’s FNP online and taking advantage of the opportunity to become FNPs. Working as an FNP allows APRNs to be primary caregivers in hospitals, nursing homes, physician’s offices and private practice.

Duquesne University’s post-master’s online certificate program allows APRNs to gain specialized skills that may not have been offered in their MSN curriculum. With the FNP specialization, APRNs are prepared to treat families across all life stages, from infancy to older adulthood, including pregnancy.

About Duquesne University’s Online Post-Master’s Certificate Program

Duquesne University’s online Post-Master’s Certificate program prepares APRNs for the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners Certification Program (AANPCB) or the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) exam to become a registered nurse practitioner. Students are paired with experienced faculty mentors who help guide success. Because the work is conducted online, APRNs can continue their personal and professional responsibilities while earning the certificates.

Duquesne University is a pioneer in nursing education and has repeatedly been ranked among the Best Online Graduate Nursing Programs by U.S. News & World Report. For more information, contact Duquesne University today.