Nurses: A Force for Change: Care Effective, Cost Effective
International Nurses Day is celebrated around the world every May 12, the anniversary of Florence Nightingale’s birth. The International Council of Nurses commemorates this important day each year with the production and distribution of the International Nurses’ Day.
Defining cost effectiveness and care effectiveness:
Health services are delivered within the constraints of financial and human resources and it is important that the cost of healthcare and its benefits are fully considered. We often hear of nurses as being “cost effective” and “care effective”. And an understanding of these terms is vital in guiding decision-making for optimum use of resources.
Cost effectiveness analysis (CEA) enables decision-makers to quantify health benefits in terms of “health” rather than in monetary terms measured in health outcomes; such as number of diarrheal diseases prevented, life-years saved, or improved quality of life (Neumann 2005). It is used to determine which intervention achieves a specific outcome with less cost by comparing two or more healthcare interventions. For example, a cost effectiveness analysis can be done to compare immunizations given by physicians with those given by nurses to determine which group achieves better outcomes with less cost. Another example can be comparing two drugs for hypertension to determine which drug produces desired outcome at less cost.The interventions are compared in terms of their costs and of their health outcomes or health benefits. The intention is to achieve healthcare outcomes with fewer resources, which leads us to a related concept of “care effectiveness”.In analysis of cost effectiveness, we also need to consider “care effectiveness” which means care that is based on scientific evidence and produces the intended results or outcomes (Newhouse & Poe 2005). In reference to nurses, care effectiveness is the extent to which health problems are solved and the degree to which outcomes are achieved. If we add cost effectiveness to this definition, it means nurses achieve the intended health outcomes at less cost, with quality as an underpinning element.