2020 has been a year full of changes and cancellations, but the “International Year of the Nurse and Midwife” celebration is one that carried on. For that, I am extremely grateful. Most of us have had the compassionate support of a nurse at some point in our lives since birth. Yet, simply saying “thank you” doesn’t seem sufficient.
That’s why I was excited when Zebra launched the “Right Patient Care at the Right Time” campaign in May 2020. One of the best ways we can honor these heroes in scrubs is by giving them a platform upon which they could share their ideas on how to improve patient care.
Nurses often know what’s best when it comes to improving patient safety and care because they are on the front lines – at patients’ sides – around the clock. They know what’s working well and what’s not within healthcare systems. But it’s not always easy for them to share this valuable knowledge with those who make the technology selections. So, Zebra set out to ensure their voices could be heard by healthcare decisionmakers who can put their recommendations into action.
These Nurses are Challenging the Status Quo…
This summer, 45 nurses and nursing students worldwide submitted videos and essays telling us how technology can be better utilized to improve patient care. In proposing innovative technology solutions that challenge the status quo, some addressed the issues caused by the COVID-19 outbreak while others proposed clinical tools that could become standard to improve communications and patient safety in all care settings. In fact, four out of the five winning submissions aligned with the Emergency Care Research Institute’s (ECRI) Top 10 Patient Safety Concerns list for 2020.
The patient safety concerns on ECRI’s list range from maternal health to early recognition of behavioral health needs and even device cleaning and disinfection, which is something that Zebra works diligently to facilitate with its tightly sealed and easy-to-disinfect rugged mobile computers, scanners and printers. The list also names patient matching in the Electronic Health Record (EHR), fragmentation across care settings and a lack of standardized safety protocols as issues – all of which are shared concerns, and priorities, for our winners. For example:
Natalia Grzechnik, a nursing student in the EMEA region, believes that it’s possible to improve patient matching in the EHR by creating a wearable and scannable device that allows clinicians to instantly confirm a patient’s chronic medical conditions. It could help detect and identify the root cause of abnormalities and help facilitate more accurate diagnostic, medical and therapeutic actions. It would also provide sufficient information to make patient matching with the EHR more accurate while also helping to alleviate some of the daily research and reporting tasks of nurses related to patients’ medical histories.
Melanie White and Jasmin Jones-Hallowell, both nursing students in North America, agree with ECRI that it’s critical to reduce fragmentation across care settings. When there is a shortage of nurses in hospitals, many nurses are asked to rotate between patients depending on current availability when a patient calls or requires follow-up care. This can cause communication issues and inconsistent care experiences. With this in mind, Jasmin proposed using technology to help nurses more efficiently request equipment and assistance when responding to a patient call light. Instead of leaving the patient’s side to get what he or she needs, the responding nurse can provide continuous care while the right equipment is retrieved and brought to the room.
Melanie, on the other hand, thinks that technology could be used to route minor patient requests to a patient’s assigned nursing assistant rather than RNs or LPNs. This would allow RNs and LPNs to provide higher quality care to assigned patients versus having to rush off to respond to a less critical request. This standardized routing model would also facilitate more consistent care by ensuring patients were tended to by the same nursing team member(s) during their stay. This could also help to improve care team response times for all patient calls without having to hire more RNs or LPNs.
Noureen Sultan, a pediatric nurse in the APAC region, came up with a very smart way to standardize medication dosing and administration to decrease the possibility of making errors and reduce the amount of time it takes to determine the correct dosage amount. Getting children to sit still for a prolonged period of time is always difficult, but it is even more of a challenge in clinical settings. Her proposed technology helps to expedite the process in a safety-first manner.
And Opening the Lines of Communication to the Outside World…
Though nurses’ first priority is always their patients’ well-being, they also feel a duty to help protect the well-being of patients’ friends and family members. Our fifth winner, Rayssa Teixeira da Silva from Latin America, witnessed first-hand the mental, emotional and physical toll that a patient’s illness can have on loved ones, especially when those loved ones are physically distant from the patient and unable to receive timely or detailed updates about the patient’s status. She recalled a time when a family’s matriarch was hospitalized with serious compromises to several organs. Most of the family lived in different states, and those who were able to closely monitor the patient’s hospitalization were overwhelmed by not being able to pass on all the news to others. The little information they did receive from doctors and nurses was difficult to understand and therefore hard to explain to the rest of the family, making the illness an even more difficult experience for the whole family.
With health professionals in hospital units understandably busy and overloaded with technical procedures, Rayssa believes that a technology solution in which information such as diagnoses, scheduled exams, symptom monitoring and specific medical and nursing notes could be automatically and securely shared with authorized family members would make it practical for physicians and nurses to communicate more clearly and frequently with patient’s loved ones.
You Are All Heroes!
As you can see from each of these winning submissions, nurses deserve a world of credit for their strength, creativity, commitment and compassion. Their unique front-line insights and exceptionally-brilliant ideas are the reason why modern healthcare continues to improve every day.
We appreciate all of the nurses and nursing students around the world who took the time to share their thoughts about what more can be done to ensure hospitals, clinics and other caregivers are providing the “right patient care at the right time.” And we are extremely grateful for each and every front-line healthcare worker who is going above and beyond to keep us safe during these unprecedented times. Your tireless and selfless efforts to improve our mental, physical and emotional well-being as well as the well-being of our loved ones, neighbors, colleagues and communities do not go unnoticed. Zebra stands by you always!
Curious what else Zebra is doing to empower front-line workers? Check this out.