As I’ve pointed out in earlier blog posts, nurses can help reduce costs while improving the quality of care. However, nurses often don’t know how to convince administrators to fund these money-saving ideas. This three-part series presents the basics of making a business case for nursing.
WHAT IS A BUSINESS CASE FOR NURSING?
A business case is an evidence-based, convincing argument that considers the costs, savings and revenues of a project or investment. A business case for nursing is an effective way to obtain resources needed to improve nursing care. Nurses who can make a successful business case help support maintaining and improving high quality care in health care settings.
Nurses at many levels can learn to make a business case. One role of the AACN Clinical Nurse Leader™ is fiscal stewardship, or the ability to manage and obtain needed resources. Nurse managers and nurse executives also need to know how to make a business case as part of their day-to-day responsibilities to the nurses they serve. Many staff nurses in hospitals, clinics and community settings see the need for resources to improve care, and can learn to make a business case. Making a business case also an important skill for nurse entrepreneurs and advanced practice nurses who start and run a small business or practice.
HOW DOES A NURSE GET STARTED ON MAKING A BUSINESS PLAN?
The first step in making a business case is to identify a problem. One of the best ways to identify a problem is to demonstrate evidence of a problem or unmet need. For example, a staff RN in a cardiac unit sees patients with congestive heart failure (CHF) admitted and readmitted to the unit again and again. Discussions with patients and families provide evidence that these patients don’t understand their treatment and medication plans when they get home. The patients go into a health crisis and return to the hospital, sometimes within days of discharge. This is an important problem with evidence for the need for home follow-up.
The next step in making a business case is to identify a solution to the problem. The solution to the problem addressed by the business case should be supported by research evidence. For example, current research supports telephone monitoring to improve outcomes for CHF patients discharged to their homes.
The solution should also be feasible to implement. The staff nurse will need to work with a team to determine the best approach to telephone monitoring for recently discharged CHF patients. Physicians, hospital case managers and others on the team propose increasing the nurse case manager staffing to support a CHF telephone monitoring program. The identification of a problem, a solution and team support is essential in the business case for CHF telephone monitoring.
WHAT ARE WAYS TO MAKE A BUSINESS CASE?
The CHF telephone monitoring program will need further development to make a convincing business case. In many situations, nurses will write a business plan to make a business case. Part Two of this series provides an overview of writing a business plan. In other settings, nurses might make a business case by writing a health program grant proposal. The basics of grant proposals are discussed in Part Three of this series.
My book, Economics and Financial Management for Nurses and Nurse Leaders, Second Edition is a resource for nurses who want to make a business case. There are chapters on writing a business plan and a health program grant proposal. Nurses will also learn about strategic planning, budgets and other topics that help in making a convincing business case to improve nursing care.
Nurses at all levels see problems and can find solutions to improve patient care. These ideas can become reality if nurses learn how to make a business case.