Nurses play crucial role in improving health care, says adviser

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07/17/2019 10:05

In Alan S. Cohn’s view, a big part of the problem with health care in the U.S. is a disconnect between providers and patients. Although patients may receive the necessary medications and procedures, there is no support system in place to help them understand why they are sick and how the treatment may or may not be helping them, Mr. Cohn said. He believes nurses play a large role in bridging the divide.

Mr. Cohn, a GW Nursing advisory board member, is the president and CEO of AbsoluteCARE, an Atlanta-based health provider specializing in complex chronically ill patients. Founded in 2000, AbsoluteCARE currently has locations in Atlanta, Baltimore and Greenbelt, Maryland, with a new location opening soon in Philadelphia.

Defined as a “patient-centered ambulatory ICU,” AbsoluteCARE employs a unique, holistic approach to health outcomes by providing “totally integrated” health care under one roof. Services include primary care, chronic disease and infection management, onsite pharmacies, labs, X-rays and infusions, behavioral health and substance abuse counseling and treatment, community health outreach, nutrition counseling, transitional care coordination and health education. Members are admitted by referral only from insurance companies.

“We have an all-hands-on-deck approach, where members are assigned their own multidisciplinary team, including a primary care physician, a care manager and social and behavioral experts to help them navigate any barriers in their lives,” Mr. Cohn said. “We don’t work in silos.”

He said nurses play a crucial role in patient education and advocacy to help transform health care from a volume-based to a value-based industry.

“Educating patients is imperative, and nurses are trained for this,” Mr. Cohn said. “There’s a tremendous shortage, and we need more nurses to step in and help solve the problem.”

An alumnus of GW, Mr. Cohn graduated with a bachelor’s degree in public affairs in 1977, serving as the student representative to the Board of Trustees and chairman of the Program Board, a student organization. His daughter, Madison, graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing in 2011.

Mr. Cohn began his career in health care while studying law at the University of Baltimore, working for the Office of the Attorney Advisor for the Health Care Finance Administration (now known as the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services). After earning a J.D., Mr. Cohn joined his family’s business, which later became Spectera, Inc., where he gained experience leading a managed health care company. In 1992, Mr. Cohn joined the executive team of Avesis, Inc., an administrator of vision, dental and hearing insurance plans, serving as the CEO until 2016, when the company was sold to Guardian Life Insurance Company of America.