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INESC TEC's report shows that specialized nursing care is an investment with returns for SNS

The report on specialized nursing care, written by INESC TEC for the Portuguese nurse’s association, concludes that the nursing specialization is a growing need and an international trend, presuming an important financial return for the Portuguese National Health Service (SNS). The conclusions of the document were released in April.

04th May 2018

Specialist nurses can generate profits of EUR 18 million/ year

“An ageing population, with chronic diseases (...) calls for a redefinition of the human resources management policy (...) capable of addressing these new societal challenges”. This is how the report “Specialized nursing care as a response to the evolution of health care needs” begins, being written by INESC TEC for the Portuguese nurse’s association.

In collaboration with CEGI - INESC TEC’s Centre for Industrial Engineering and Management, the researchers Mário Amorim Lopes, Sofia Cruz Gomes and Bernardo Almada-Lobo intended to address the concerns of these professionals that wanted to keep up with the developments in health care, giving them tools and skills that, along with knowledge, will make them more competent in their jobs.  

According to this report, there is a growing need of having specialized human resources in the area of health, namely in the nursing area. This specialization can reduce the number of hospital admissions by 5%, which will result in significant budgetary impacts of EUR 18 million/ year.
«It is estimated that the budgetary impact of this action, considering the scenario in which 1500 positions for specialist nurses are made available annually, nets an average benefit of about EUR 18 million / year. This amount results from the difference between an estimated cost of EUR 63 million / year, which includes the wage increase and the costs of the residency, and an estimated benefit of EUR 81 million/ year, resulting from expected savings of 5% in hospital admissions”, states the report.

Other positive impacts

Improvement of health, efficiency and management indicators and of the personal satisfaction ratings of the professionals. This is how the residency specialization can positively influence the health care, besides the obvious economic benefit.

Another conclusion of this report shows that the residency in nursing specialization is an adequate instrument for the development and professional enhancement despite the budgetary impact.This impact, however, is largely mitigated by the benefits of its implementation.
According to the report, the technical capacity and the clinical competence resulting from the specialization are keys to the professional enhancement, considering that «the recognition of the role played by a specialist nurse is also a way to minimize the negative impacts of an unmotivated workforce».
Basically, the specialized nursing care also contributes largely to the professional enhancement, as it gives nurses the opportunity to build a professional career and encourages them to continue their training.
nursing care

An international trend

The nursing specialization is already an essential international trend. All over the world, the role of this professional is defined based on advanced or specialized tasks. They perform these specific tasks that exceed the more general nursing care.
INESC TEC's report shows that according to OECD - Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, implementing policies that promote the nurses specialization is a growing trend, namely in countries such as Australia, Canada, USA, Finland, the Netherlands and UK. These societies are example in which the investment in nurse specialization works as a way of meeting the health challenges with direct impacts on health care provided.
Other countries, for example Germany, Austria, France, Norway, Spain and Switzerland, are implementing some advanced training courses although they are limited in practice. In a few countries like Portugal, Denmark, Belgium, Hungary, Italy or Poland this specialist role is yet to be a part of the organizational structure of health institutions.

The importance of the class

«The nursing professionals ensure a very significant proportion of the health care provision and for that matter they are crucial for any health system», states the Portuguese nurse’s association. The institution also mentions that investing in human resources is a key factor for economic and social growth.
The number and the qualification of nurses have a direct link with the quality of services provided, playing an important role in obtaining better health care results. Therefore, this study shows that the specialization can also help meet the main purposes defined by the Portuguese National Health Service , namely to «ensure the health protection and the access to health care for all citizens».

The researchers mentioned in this news piece are associated with INESC TEC and UP-FEUP.