Since the 1970s, Health Risk Assessments (HRAs) act as a way to identify and manage chronic illness. Per the CDC, “chronic illnesses account for an estimated 83 percent of total U.S. healthcare spending, and virtually all (99 percent) of Medicare expenditures are for beneficiaries with at least one chronic condition. Many of these chronic conditions are not well managed and thus drive an increased cost.”
HRAs are a tool meant to improve healthcare outcomes, manage chronic illnesses, and control medical costs. While HRAs are taking on a more significant role in the healthcare system, so are the nurse practitioners, or NPs, that are being relied on to make HRA programs successful.
Nurse Practitioners (NPs) carry out a wide range of tasks such as conducting comprehensive in-home health risk assessments. These HRAs can include obtaining vital signs, measuring BMI, reviewing medications and performing physical exams.
Help Wanted: What Do You Need to Be an NP?
To be an NP, you will need a BSN and master’s in nursing from an accredited school of nursing. NPs also need board certification and a current unrestricted Nurse Practitioner license. Regarding training and experience, NPs with backgrounds in critical care, emergency medicine, adult primary care and hospice are highly sought after.
Lastly, soft skills are critical. You need to be able to think on your feet and solve problems as you work with patients who have a history of chronic illness. You must also be able to communicate medical knowledge to patients in an easily understood manner and be able to adjust for varying levels of comprehension.
What to Expect and How to Prepare for Your Role as an NP
A New Environment: The Patient’s Home & Their Family
When starting out as an NP, it can be vastly different than practicing in a hospital or doctor’s office. Since your interaction takes place entirely in the patient’s home, it can initially be an adjustment. However, with this environment change comes much more insight into the patient’s life which can drive findings and influence patient outcomes positively.
Also, remember this added insight also includes the possibility of meeting family members or others who occupy the home. While you are there to assess the patient and not the family it is important to remember that caregivers are vital for successful at-home care especially for patients who are disabled and are unable to care for themselves.
The Mobile Office: Be Prepared
Since you are mobile, it’s best to prepare. No longer do you have access to an entire office or unit equipped with all your daily necessities. Stock your car and make sure your bag has any equipment and materials you may need.
Patient Charting: At the Heart of Health Risk Assessments
Since the bulk of health risk assessments have to do with charting, it’s imperative you stay on top of it. Many companies have an excellent electronic medical record system which will make this a bit easier. However, if this is not the case, make sure to complete as much of the charting at the patient’s home. If you are unable to finish charting in the patient’s home, make sure to complete it later that evening while the patient’s information is still fresh in your mind. Attention to detail is especially important when you consider many patients have multiple chronic medical conditions, and their cases can be very complicated and involved.
The Journey Ahead: Mapping Out Your Career
A career as a NP can be gratifying. As an NP, you can help patients assess their health risks and try to help them lessen the issues that come along with chronic conditions. With a growing older population, this practice area will continue to be in demand. For NPs looking to chart a course in their careers, it’s best to consult a professional recruiter who is an industry expert in the field of healthcare.
At National Recruiters, we are leaders in the recruiting of medical professionals. Contact one of our healthcare recruiting specialists today to start charting your path in the world of Health Risk Assessments.