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Discussion: Trend Analysis and Forecasting


Green Hills Health System comprises a small community hospital and a primary care practice. Located in a rural area, the nearest large city is approximately 100 miles away. Individuals age 60 and older constitute one of the largest patient populations Green Hills serves. Recently, members of the nursing staff have noticed that the numbers of geriatric patients admitted to the hospital seem to be increasing. Many of these patients have multiple comorbidities and need specialty care that is not available through Green Hills Health System. Some of the patients have commented that they lack the financial resources and transportation required to travel to the large metropolitan health care center that provides a variety of specialty services.


Imagine that you are a nurse leader-manager in the organization described above. How could conducting an internal and external scan of the environment help you and your colleagues to identify opportunities for change moving forward? What literature sources would you consult to learn about trends and emerging issues that are likely to affect the organization? What data would you examine?

In this Discussion, you analyze trends that are likely to have a significant impact on nursing and health care in the coming years. You may use this Discussion to formulate initial thoughts related to trends and unmet needs that you might choose to address through the Course Project, which is introduced this week.


To prepare:


Review the information on forecasting and trends in the Learning Resources.

Conduct a search of the literature to investigate trends and emerging issues in nursing and health care. Evaluate the research evidence in the literature.

Based on your research, identify three trends that are likely to impact nursing and health care in the coming decade.

Select one of these trends on which to focus in greater detail. Then, conduct additional research and analyze evidence-based issues related to this trend.

Based on your analysis, consider whether this trend creates or contributes to an unmet need that currently impacts, or will impact, a specific group, unit, or organization.


Post an analysis of the impact of your selected trend on nursing and health care in the coming decade. Explain how this trend creates or contributes to an unmet need that a specific group, unit, or organization may encounter now or in the coming years.


Read a selection of your colleagues’ responses.

Respond to at least two of your colleagues on two different days using one or more of the following approaches:

Share an alternative perspective on a trend reported by your colleagues, synthesizing the information to provide a different perspective.

Ask a probing question, substantiated with additional background information or research.

Validate an idea with your own experience and additional resources.


Required Readings

Ursell, F. (2011). Care home funding: What to expect and what to do. Nursing & Residential Care, 13(2), 94–96.

Retrieved from the Walden Library databases.


This article provides an example of forecasting for the costs associated with running nursing and residential care homes and examines related future trends.

Weiss, R. (2010, Summer). The forecast for health care. Marketing Health Services, 30(3), 7.

Retrieved from the Walden Library databases.


The author describes predictions for future developments in health care.

 Harding, S. (2012, November 15). Long-term forecasts are mostly worthless. Forbes. Retrieved from http://www.forbes.com/sites/greatspeculations/2012/11/15/long-term-forecasts-are-mostly-worthless/


The author addresses the notion that trends only continue until they are interrupted by change, so predictions rarely actualize as expected.

 Peters, B. (2012, February 16). Healthcare forecast: Increasing clouds with a chance of dramatic improvement. Forbes. Retrieved from http://www.forbes.com/sites/bradpeters/2012/02/16/healthcare-forecast-increasing-clouds-with-a-chance-of-dramatic-improvement/


The author discusses a key technology-related trend in health care.

 Document: Course Project: Developing a Strategic Plan—Overview (PDF)

Required Media

Laureate Education (Producer). (2013i). Trends in health care organizations [Video file]. Retrieved from https://class.waldenu.edu


Note:  The approximate length of this media piece is 4 minutes.


Dr. Carol Huston discusses the dynamic nature of health care and trends that are impacting the industry.



Accessible player  

Optional Resources

Sare, M. V., & Ogilvie, L. (2010). Strategic planning for nurses: Change management in health care. Sudbury, MA: Jones and Bartlett.

Review Chapter 7, “The Three Key Elements of the Strategic Planning Process: A Vision That Guides Nursing’s Future Action” (pp. 117–143)

 MicroStrategy. (2012). Business forecasting. Retrieved from http://www.microstrategy.com/business-forecasting/

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