Despite U.S. health care expenditures surpassing $3.2 trillion dollars annually and accounting for 18 percent of the gross domestic product, millions of U.S. residents still do not receive accessible, affordable, and high quality care. The nation’s health care crisis is fraught with challenges, including massive, unsustainable costs and perpetuation of fragmented, ineffective models of health care delivery.
As the future structure of the United States health care system remains uncertain, the need for wide-ranging transformation is clear. Primed to lead this charge are the 3.5 million nurses registered in the United States, representing the largest segment of the nation’s health care workforce. Through their work in varied settings and at all professional levels, nurses possess an enormous reach and capacity to address crucial gaps in care across the U.S.
In 2010, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) issued a landmark report, the Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health, calling for nurses to take the lead in health system transformation. The report offered recommendations to transform health care through nursing, so all Americans can have access to high quality care, with nurses contributing to the full extent of their education, training, and competencies. The resulting Campaign for Action -- a joint initiative of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, AARP, and AARP Foundation -- challenged nurses to “lead and diffuse collaborative improve efforts” as part of an interprofessional initiative to redesign care. The IOM’s 2015 progress report further noted the need for interprofessional health care education to highlight “leadership, management, entrepreneurship, innovation, and other skills that will enable nurses to help ensure that the public receives accessible and quality health care.”
Innovations in nursing expand beyond technological advancements to new process methods and creative cross-sector partnerships. This edition of the Social Innovations Journal, entitled “Social Innovations in Nursing: Taking the Lead to Transform Health Care,” examines the transformational work of nurses in the U.S. through a focus on the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. This edition is designed in partnership with the Pennsylvania Action Coalition, one of 51 state action coalitions charged with implementing the recommendations of the Future of Nursing report.
This edition describes innovations driven by nurses in various sectors. These examples demonstrate the power of new approaches spearheaded by nurses in some of the most critical issue areas facing health care today: the opioid epidemic, reducing preventable deaths, and community safety.
The Social Innovations Journal’s mission is to promote innovative ideas and incubate social innovation and thought leadership (i.e. teaching leaders “how” to think and not “what” to think) to spark a culture of innovation to create new models and systems change. The Social Innovations Journal (SIJ) takes a regional approach to sourcing social innovations and enterprises. Since 2008, SIJ has published hundreds of articles and convened thousands of people to discuss social innovations and social sector models at the local level. SIJ has a regional, national, and global following reaching millions of readers across the globe daily.
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