What Nurses Need to Know: The 2024 Health Care Forecast

Sam DiStefano
By Sam DiStefano  | 
What Nurses Need to Know: The 2024 Health Care Forecast

It’s a new year, which means it’s time for some of our faculty experts at the Johns Hopkins School of Nursing to weigh in on emerging trends and what to look out for in 2024.

Global Health

The global health care landscape is undergoing transformative changes driven by multifaceted challenges and technological advancements.

Integration of AI:

Artificial intelligence is increasingly being explored as a promising avenue for improving global health.  Among its applications are AI-enabled population health predictive analytics to forecast and optimize resource allocation, frontline health worker and patient virtual health assistants, and clinical decision-making support.  Rate-limiting challenges include availability of quality data, data privacy and ethics, and regulatory and policy issues.

Global Conflict and Migration:

The 2023 Global Peace Index report reveals a concerning surge in global conflicts. Conflict obviously causes deaths and injuries in the war zone, but also has health consequences from the breakdown of health and social services, income loss, the heightened risk of disease transmission, and displacement of populations. 

Global Mental Health:

Mental disorders remain significant global burden on health.  In 2024, global mental health will continue to require attention as the prevalence of mental disorders has been on the rise and remains a significant leading cause of disease burden worldwide. There is a growing emphasis on mental health awareness and strategies to improve access to mental health care such as through digital platforms and the integration of mental health services into primary care systems globally.

As we navigate these complexities, holistic approaches that prioritize preventive and wellness care, address social determinants of health and health equity, and sustainable development are increasingly being promoted to foster a healthier and more resilient global population.

Pain Management

Pain is a condition that touches the lives of all, it does not discriminate. However, the management of this pain is not the same for everyone. Individuals are living on a daily basis with undermanaged pain, which has implications for their overall health and can be debilitating for some. The treatment of pain and hours of work lost due to pain costs the U.S. economy billions of dollars each year. There is an increase in overall pain among U.S. adults as well as the use of opioids.  

Nurses are critical in the role of pain management. It is imperative that we do not continue down the same trajectory of pain management care, but take it to a new level. As we are seeing a trend in new technologies, pharmacological, and non-pharmacological pain management treatments being developed, it is imperative that nurses continue to move these forward and work towards personalized pain management care that is accessible.  

Nurses must continue to play key roles in identifying, developing, and testing innovative pain management strategies and plans of care. Nurses must collaborate with other disciplines to restructure and redesign pain care throughout out the health care system.  

Developing innovative and effective ways to treat chronic pain conditions will influence the lives of individuals, entire communities, our health care system, and the economy. In 2024, we can make these changes at the bedside, in the community, and throughout healthcare policies.  


As we emerge from COVID-19, it is clear that we need to do more to support older adults, including a growing number with dementia who are living in the community.  There is an increased awareness of our reliance on family caregivers who lack training and support – and efforts are underway to better support them at the national and local levels. These include initiative aims to collect data about the needs of family caregivers, support the development of consistent language to define caregiving across initiatives, and ensure caregivers are more centrally involved in program development.  

Furthermore, there is also increased recognition that we have to address a workforce shortage of nurses and direct care workers who can support older adults as they live longer with serious illness at home. 

The Medicare system continues to evolve with new payments and initiatives. In 2024 the majority of beneficiaries will be enrolled in Medicare Advantage programs (vs traditional fee for service Medicare). This is a game changer and will require increased research efforts to assess how well Medicare Advantage is serving beneficiaries in terms of costs, quality, and patient outcomes.

It is critical that as we address these challenges as we work toward a more equitable system for our aging population

We are now in the long tail of the COVID pandemic. The consequences to the nursing workforce are complex and intensifying as evidenced by deepening shortages, persistent mental health issues, increasing violence, and moral suffering. It is a pivotal time for nurses to lead the nation forward. To address these issues we need:

  1. Investments in healthy and ethical workplaces for nurses with shared accountability by leaders, organizations, government, and communities.
  2. Engagement with the public to re-imagine the social contract so that it is bidirectional and includes shared commitments.
  3. New care delivery models that harness nurses’ competence, commitment, and compassion to deliver healthcare in ways that are responsive to patient needs and foster nurse wellbeing.
  4. Innovative and sustainable ways for nurses to drive health equity, patient outcomes and community engagement.


In 2023, the Institute for Policy Solutions at the Johns Hopkins School of Nursing opened with the goal of shifting policy and practice to more preventive, value-based, and whole-person care. The Institute is already at work with health policy leaders, innovators and researchers to redesign the U.S. health system.

So far, four faculty have been awarded Institute for Policy Solutions Health Redesign grants. In 2024, these grants will be used to create convenings and research projects that will take on critical and timely issues including location-specific threats to youth flourishing (Dr. Robert Atkins), Black maternal health (Dr. Noelene Jeffers), strategies to foster diversity and inclusion in higher education (Dr. Jermaine Monk), and disability advocacy (Dr. Bonnielin Swenor).

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About the Author: Sam DiStefano

Sam DiStefano is the Social Media and Digital Content Coordinator for the Johns Hopkins School of Nursing. Sam works to bring the latest from JHUSON straight to your social media feeds and online reading.

Sam DiStefano

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