Nurses will need to play a critical role in primary healthcare in coming decades due to an expected surge in diseases associated with aging, such as arthritis and diabetes, the Canadian Nurses Association (CNA) believes. Besides emergence of new viruses is being reported periodically.
In such a context, the country's health-care system is unsustainable in its current form and must change to deal with the health impact of an aging population, the association said in its vision statement.
The CNA foresees that primary care providers, such as nurses, will be responsible for health promotion, disease prevention and the management of chronic illness in the future.
"Through new technology, major advances in genetic research and significant changes to the roles and the diversity of health professionals, we envision a Canadian health system that will address these challenges in a timely and effective way," said CNA president Marlene Smadu.
"Health care will no longer mean hospitals, surgeons and high-tech diagnostic tests first and foremost," said Smadu. "A greater proportion of illness care, and much more complex care — including acute, long-term and palliative care — will be provided in homes, hospices and other community settings."
Instead, there will be a significant increase in long-term and transitional living beds in the health system.
Technology will play an increasingly key role in the delivery of health care, according to the CNA. It notes that remote health care using audio and video technology will provide alternatives to face-to-face visits with nurses and allow patients to travel shorter distances to access care.
"The dramatic changes we envision in the future will mean that the role of the nurse and other partners in the health system need to be more collaborative, team-based and streamlined," said Smadu.