Nursing and Healthcare Policy Discussion
Discussion 1 Nursing and Healthcare Policy
Healthcare policies determine how and who delivers care services. The policies also affect those who get care by affecting factors like accessibility, affordability, and others. Therefore, without effective policies, healthcare and nursing cannot function effectively. Nurses must understand the structure of policies and the processes that are involved in making the policies to know how best to affect and apply the policies.
Healthcare policies are structured based on the various levels of governance involved in healthcare. Policies are created at the organizational, state, and federal levels and involve comprehensive processes that ensure input from various stakeholders including nurses.
Healthcare and nursing policies have changed with needs since the 19th century. While there were policies long before nursing was recognized as a formal profession, the policies were not as impactful as they are now (Alcaraz et al., 2020). In the early stages of nursing such as during the Crimean war when Nightingale pioneered modern nursing, there were no formal policies that regulated the profession. Nurses had to work under physicians and follow their guidance.
However, with time, policies that affect nursing have been introduced at the federal and state levels. For instance, policies now have made nurses more autonomous than before and various stages continue making favorable laws for them (May et al., 2018).
Organizations too have to develop policies that align with federal and state laws. The various laws that affect payment and the management of care like Medicaid and Medicare, ACA, and HIPAA have been developed to solve the various modern healthcare issues like affordability and others.
The structure of policies is based on the governance of the sector. Healthcare is a mandate of both federal and state laws. Federal policies that affect healthcare include affordable care under ACA, the health information policy under HIPAA, and others (Alcaraz et al., 2020).
Federal laws apply to healthcare providers and stakeholders in all states. Each state also has its healthcare policies that have to be applied. They include Medicare expansion and their nurse practice acts. For instance, while some states allow the full practice, others are restrictive. The state policies are enforceable in the states that they apply only. For instance, state laws and policies of California only apply in the state and not in any other state.
The state policies determine the state’s plans and regulations of nursing and healthcare. After the state level, the organizations also have to develop policies that seek to ensure that they implement government regulations and also offer quality care. For instance, organizational policies affect staffing and patient admission among others.
The healthcare policies have various processes that nurses and other stakeholders are involved in. depending on the level of policies, various processes may be involved (May et al., 2018). Usually, the processes need to begin with agenda setting before policies are developed and adopted. After adoption, policies are implemented and monitored to ensure that they are effective. Nurses participate at all levels.
In conclusion, policies guide to care and affect the professional environments of nurses. Policies exist at the various levels of governance from the federal to the organizational level. Healthcare policies have also changed since early times to ensure that the healthcare system and nursing keep improving to solve people’s needs.
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Alcaraz, K. I., Wiedt, T. L., Daniels, E. C., Yabroff, K. R., Guerra, C. E., & Wender, R. C. (2020). Understanding and addressing social determinants to advance cancer health equity in the United States: a blueprint for practice, research, and policy. CA: a cancer journal for clinicians, 70(1), 31-46. https://doi.org/10.3322/caac.21586
May, C. R., Cummings, A., Girling, M., Bracher, M., Mair, F. S., May, C. M., … & Finch, T. (2018). Using normalization process theory in feasibility studies and process evaluations of complex healthcare interventions: a systematic review. Implementation Science, 13(1), 1-27. https://doi.org/10.1186/s13012-018-0758-1
Healthcare policy refers to the decisions, goals, and actions that determine how care is accessed and administered (Greenwood, 2022). Categories
of healthcare policies include patient care policies, drug policies, security and privacy policies, and employee health policies. Patient care policies
are specific to the type of care provided at a given institution with patient safety and how care should be provided as the main aspects. Drug policies
are centered around decisions regarding the handling and administration of pharmaceuticals. Employee health policies are aimed at providing a safe
environment for staff to provide care and include policies such as alcohol and tobacco use and employee health and wellness. Security and privacy
policies maintain not only physical safety of those in a given establishment, but also data privacy and technology security. All of these policies help
to establish and maintain standards and guidelines that aim to benefit patients, healthcare organizations, and the healthcare system (Greenwood,
Healthcare policy is a highly debatable issue and has been such for decades. One major historical healthcare policy was the Social Security
Amendments of 1965 in which the Social Security Act was passed and Medicare was established which provided public health coverage to seniors
over the age of 65. Another notable event is the Healthcare Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) of 1996. HIPAA policies address
such issues as health insurance coverage for pre-existing conditions as well as privacy and security of electronic health information (History, n.d.).
Major issues that have influenced past and present healthcare policies are access to coverage, social barriers affecting population health, and
healthcare costs and spending (Greenwood, 2022).
Healthcare policies are made at federal, state, and local levels, however, individual hospitals and clinics may have their own individual policies,
as well. Examples of state policies include regulations for licensure of nurses and immunization requirements for university students. Local hospital
policies include visitor guidelines, staff management, and disaster response protocols (Mason et al., 2016).
Policymaking is an arduous yet critical task in healthcare. Policymaking at any level begins with identification of a problem. This may be a new
problem or issue or a need to modify a current policy because it is no longer beneficial or safe. Once identified, an agenda to address possible
solutions or alternatives is constructed. After a solution has been chosen, it is then implemented and evaluated for effectiveness (Mason et al.,
2016). Whether at the local or federal level, healthcare policies are important and are the responsibility of patients, nurses, physicians, and
administrators. By understanding healthcare policies and advocating for policy reform, we can ensure the safety and effectiveness of healthcare
provided as well as addressing issues that are problematic in the healthcare arena.
Greenwood, H. (2022, January 11). Healthcare policy: What is it and why is it important? University of St. Augustine for Health Sciences.
Retrieved August 22, 2022, from https://www.usa.edu/blog/healthcare-policy/
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1. Why is it important for nurses to be involved in policy making?
Why Are Nurses Important in Health Policy? Through policy work, nurses can influence healthcare for patients now and in the future. You can advocate for patient information to be at an appropriate level in plain language using health literacy guidelines.
2. How nurses can affect public policy?
At the state and federal level, nurses can get involved in policy and politics by joining a professional nursing organization. These organizations often have lobbyists that bring nursing issues to Capitol Hill. Nurses can also write their state representatives regarding healthcare policy.
3. What is the main purpose of a health policy?
Goal: Use health policy to prevent disease and improve health. Health policy can have a major impact on health and well-being. Healthy People 2030 focuses on keeping people safe and healthy through laws and policies at the local, state, territorial, and federal level.
4. Why is healthcare policy important in nursing?
Healthcare policy is important because it helps establish guidelines that benefit patients, healthcare organizations, and our healthcare system. Having protocols in place can help prevent human error and poor communication around medical decisions.