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The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health
surance to physicians who continue to believe that patient care may be adversely affected, or that expanded nursing practice autonomy threatens the professional and economic roles of physicians. States with broader nursing scopes of practice have experienced no deterioration of patient care. In fact, patient satisfaction with the role of APRNs is very high. Nor has expansion of nursing scopes of practice diminished the critical role of physicians in patient care or physician income (Darves, 2007). With regard to the quality of care and the role of physicians, it is difficult to distinguish states with restrictive and more expanded scopes of practice. Finally, the committee believes that the new medical home concept, based on professional collaboration, represents a perfect opportunity for nurses and physicians to work together for the good of patient care in their community.
Fragmentation of the Health Care System
The U.S. health care system is characterized by a high degree of fragmentation across many sectors, which raises substantial barriers to building value. A fragmented health care system is characterized by weak connections among multiple component parts. Fragmentation makes simple tasks—such as assigning responsibility for payment—much more difficult than they need to be, while more complex tasks—such as coordination of home health care, family support, transportation, and social services after a hospital stay—become more difficult because they require following many separate sets of often contradictory rules. As a result, people may simply give up trying rather than take advantage of the services to which they are entitled. An examination of fragmentation in hospital services explores its origins in American pluralism, historical accident, and the hybridization of business and charity (Stevens, 1999). A review by Cebul and colleagues identifies three broad areas of fragmentation: (1) the U.S. health insurance system; (2) the provision of care; and (3) the inability of health information systems to allow a “seamless flow of information between hospitals, providers and insurers” (Cebul et al., 2008).
In the United States, there is a disconnect between public and private services, between providers and patients, between what patients need and how providers are trained, between the health needs of the nation and the services that are offered, and between those with insurance and those without (Stevens, 1999). Communication between providers is difficult, and care is redundant because there is no means of sharing results. For example, a patient with diabetes covered by Medicaid may have difficulty finding a physician to help him control his blood sugar. If he is able to find a physician, that individual may not have admitting privileges at the hospital to which the patient is transported after a hypoglycemic reaction. After the patient has been admitted to the emergency room, a new cadre of physicians is responsible for him but has no information about previous blood sugar determinations, other medications he is taking, or other health problems. The patient is stabilized and a discharge is arranged, but he is