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November 7, 2011

13 strategic nursing priorities for a changing future

Daily Briefing

    Recent Advisory Board analysis indicates that if health care leaders do nothing to respond to the forces currently threatening future hospital margins, the typical hospital could face as much as a 19 percentage point drop in operating margins over 10 years. To safeguard future financial health, hospital leaders must collaborate across disciplines to improve revenue, enhance productivity, expand capacity, and thoughtfully manage case mix. Success on these goals relies heavily on nursing, but how can nurse executives navigate the long list of potential strategic opportunities to ensure efforts have the greatest impact on future financial health and care quality?

    Identifying nurse executives’ most critical strategic priorities

    Building a strategic plan for hospital-based nursing has never been more important—or more challenging. In our conversations with patient care executives, we often see strategic planning efforts encountering one of two pitfalls.

    The first is becoming overwhelmed by uncertainty. With new information released daily about emerging payment models, the economy, and political debate in Washington, it can seem overwhelming to distill all the potential strategies and paths into a limited number of strategic priorities. If nurse leaders succumb to the temptation to create a strategic plan for all eventualities and include a laundry list of priorities, then the plan loses a strategic focus. The result is a non-strategic plan that does not serve to guide a nursing organization through the coming market transformation.

    The second pitfall is failing to factor in the extent to which health care delivery may change in the coming decade. This transformation will require hospitals to better coordinate care across disciplines within the acute-care setting, create new partnerships across settings of care, and work more closely with patients and their families. To succeed in the future, it will be critical for nurse leaders to integrate these considerations into the strategic roadmap.

    To help nurse executives distill larger health system goals into the most pressing, concrete priorities for nursing, the Nursing Executive Center’s 2011-2012 National Meeting series will provide in-depth guidance on crafting a strategic plan for the coming decade. Additionally, the Center will equip members with detailed templates for crafting and customizing a nursing strategic plan for their unique organization. Finally, we will offer detailed best practices to help nurse leaders put their plans into action.

    At the core of the Center’s strategic planning work are 13 strategic priorities that should be the focus of nearly every nurse executive’s strategic plan. These 13 strategic priorities are the items that will deliver outsized returns to nurse leaders and their organization as they navigate the changing healthcare landscape. The 13 strategic priorities for nurse executives are:

    1. Enhance performance on measures tied to payment
    2. Prevent unnecessary readmissions
    3. Pay the appropriate dollars per worked hour
    4. Flex staffing to actual demand
    5. Innovate on the inpatient care staffing model
    6. Elevate the role of nurses in the outpatient setting
    7. Achieve zero defect for preventable complications
    8. Embed risk assessments for utilization into staff workflow
    9. Pre-empt unnecessary medical admissions
    10. Redistribute siloed patient care tasks to a cross-continuum navigator
    11. Drive individual accountability
    12. Strengthen interdisciplinary collaboration
    13. Position nursing as a best-in-class partner for IT

    Attend the national meeting

    To learn more about the critical role of each of these priorities and the unique role the nursing organization can play in achieving them, Center members are urged to log in and register for the national meeting. Attendees will receive templates to build a customized strategic plan focused on the 13 strategic priorities and a crosswalk of each priority to Center resources.

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