National Guidelines for Healthcare refer to statements that are developed systematically to support healthcare providers in their activities (Brouwers et al., 2010). They guide standard operations of hospitals, nursing care decisions at the bedside, surgical procedures, pharmaceutical supplies procedure, and even health insurance. The techniques of developing such guidelines are varied in process and impact.
One of the approaches that can be used to create national guidelines to improve patient health outcomes is the Delphi Technique. The concept is highly interactive and follows several steps. At first stage, healthcare specialists are brought together and requested to give their opinion on a defined health problem (Hsu & Sandford, 2007). A neutral facilitator then summarizes the outcomes of the first stage, which becomes the basis of the next level. The results from the second stage inform the last step. At this phase, the specialists reach a consensus followed by analysis of the findings, which facilitate the development of the guideline. As compared to stand alone-articles, national guidelines provide a more consistent and efficient method to close existing gaps in practice application (Hsu & Sandford, 2007). This is because they are an outcome of a comprehensive and participatory process that combines the insights of various practitioners with existing scientific evidence. An example of a national guideline currently in healthcare use is the National Guidelines on Accessible Health and Social Care Services (Hsu & Sandford, 2007). It provides practical guidance to all social care and health staff on how to offer patients with disabilities accessible services with competence. Currently, nurse practitioners together with physicians principally provide primary care in United States (AACN, 2007). As such, a DNP nurse can provide the necessary insights in the development and implementation of national guidelines in specialized areas such palliative care, care for chronically ill and elderly patients, and home care or general clinical care.
National guidelines are increasingly becoming a common phenomenon in the healthcare industry. It is clear that approaches such as the Delphi Technique can play a critical role in refining the process of developing nursing guidelines. The methods facilitate better delivery of healthcare services.
American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN). (2007). White paper on the education and role of the clinical nurse leader, www .aacn.nche .edu/Publications/WhitePapers /ClinicalNurseLeader07.pdf.
Brouwers, M. C., Kho, M. E., Browman, G. P., Burgers, J. S., Cluzeau, F., Feder, G., & Littlejohns, P. (2010). AGREE II: advancing guideline development, reporting, and evaluation in health care. Canadian Medical Association Journal, 182(18), E839-E842.
Hsu, C. C., & Sandford, B. A. (2007). The Delphi technique: making sense of consensus. Practical Assessment, Research & Evaluation, 12(10), 1-8.
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