Reforming health care toward a system that is equitable and sustainable continues to be a priority in national public policy. Legislators on Capitol Hill determine healthcare funding priorities, which are key to reform. Nurses need to be part of the conversation for positive change and innovation.

Professional organizations provide a forum where nurses’ voices can be heard. These organizations are leading innovative healthcare initiatives, bringing community, local, and state concerns to national and global awareness.

 The Institute for Healthcare Improvement developed the Triple Aim framework, which encourages the development of new healthcare delivery systems that address the following.

  • Improving the patient experience of care (including quality and satisfaction)
  • Improving the health of populations
  • Reducing the per capita cost of health care

Accountable care organizations (ACOs) are a direct result of Triple Aim and serve an estimated 31 million patients. An ACO is made up of providers, including various healthcare professionals, group practices, and hospitals, to develop local systems of healthcare delivery that adhere to the Triple Aim framework. Through public and private contracts, ACOs benefit by receiving shared savings if they meet quality care standards and provide care at a cost lower than the benchmark. ACOs encourage collaboration between various healthcare entities and community services to accomplish these goals. 

ONS advocates on the national level for holistic nursing professional care, improved public health funding for prevention and well-being, and high priority issues impacting patients’ experiences with cancer care and symptom relief. ONS’s priority initiatives involve quality care, safety, and the preparation of nurses to transform cancer care. 

Quality of Cancer Care and Safety of Patients and Staff

Quality Cancer Care: Among other things, ONS is advocating for 

  • Ensuring access to cancer screening, medication, treatment, and palliative care
  • Encouraging prevention and reduction of tobacco use
  • Increased federal funding for cancer research; screening, education, early detection, awareness, and prevention programs
  • Accelerating innovative cancer care delivery and payment models 
  • Funding appropriate, risk-adjusted quality and resource use measures and reporting
  • Expanding access to primary care, chronic care management, and advance care planning services.

Patient and Staff Safety: Quality cancer care must ensure patient and staff safety. ONS is advocating for safe staffing, a safe work environment, and the reporting of adverse events.

Prepare and Enable Nurses to Transform Cancer Care

Workforce and Education: Nurses directly and profoundly affect the lives of patients and play an integral role in the delivery of quality care. The best outcomes in oncology practice are achieved through a highly educated and skilled, experienced nursing workforce. As such, ONS supports grassroots advocacy and seeks nominations for oncology nurses to serve on relevant federal panels, committees, commissions, and boards. The society also advocates for federal nursing workforce funding and policies and to recognize the important contributions of oncology nursing. 

Value of Oncology Nurses: ONS calls for federal policies to recognize and reflect the value of oncology nurses’ essential contributions to patient safety and outcomes by ensuring that Medicare policies and payments capture and cover the full range of inpatient and outpatient oncology nursing services.

Scope of Practice: ONS calls on Congress and the Administration to preserve and promote oncology nurses’ scope of practice, including within the Medicare and Medicaid programs, ensuring that nurses can practice to the full extent of their licensure and training.

Oncology nurses can impact healthcare policy beyond our local practice, reaching national and global levels when we join with other grassroots organizations. It’s a two-way street. By knowing how ONS and other organizations are active and participating with them, we can support our communities and practices and be a voice for our patients.