Trusted Thoughts

Demanding Disruption at the Bedside

Oct 24, 2017
Sarah Gray, RN
“It’s not just that nursing is becoming a broader field; it’s becoming deeper, too … the real opportunity is in mastering complex, multifaceted issues that impact our health care system and our nation. It’s more than knowing how to perform tasks and procedures; It’s about being a more effective member of the health care team and navigating clinical systems.” – Huffpost

It’s not news that healthcare is due for disruption. But what healthcare really needs right now is innovation on the micro level. Every day, there’s a new drug innovation, gadget, device, or clinical trial. But how often do we hear about what’s happening at the forefront? These lucrative, newsworthy innovations are not always realistically applicable, and even sometimes are a nuisance.

When it comes to the actual delivery of care, we are begging for disruption.

Priming the Demand for Disruption

Amazon disrupts, and reinvents. From the book industry to retail and grocery, the giant is seemingly set on shaking things up pretty much everywhere else. Amazon can now collect data on nearly everything we do — shopping habits, patterns, locations, time and money allocation, and more. It utilizes this data to innovate, create a personal experience, grow profits, and ultimately give us exactly what we want, when and where we want it. Often before even we do.

As a Prime member, I feel invincible. I have options, transparency, control, and ease. Heck, I can use my voice to restock my pantry, confirm a recipe, or plan a movie night. But now I’ve got Amazon to blame, or thank, because my experience as a customer is far more innovative and seamless than my experience as a nurse. And that’s not okay.

Beyond Communication

I hadn’t put too much thought into my demands for healthcare innovation until a unusually quiet morning at the hospital. During a day of communication system downtime, we utilized our personal cell phones, in my case, an iPhone.

To provide some background, healthcare delivery at major medical centers functions on a communication system that utilizes two-pound phones three times thicker than an iPhone. They have a single usable application and the ability to call or text with the ease of a phone from the early 2000’s, all while my Amazon Echo puts the world at my fingertips, er vocal cords. Nurses’ phones are just an obvious example of an opportunity for innovation. Not only an improvement to communication, but access to hordes of valuable data — the manner and cadence of clinician communication, alert/alarm volume and fatigue, nursing workflow, patient needs, and time allocation, just for starters.

healthcare innovation

During this day of downtime, the beauty of integration enabled my Apple Watch to alert me, quietly, quickly, and obviously. So that when I was gowned up head to toe in an isolation room, had my hands full, engaged in therapeutic communication, discharge teaching, or even simply trying to quietly obtain vital signs without waking my patient, my two-pound phone didn’t obnoxiously ring and beep incessantly in my pocket. Throughout this gloriously quieter day, the small vibration on my wrist alerted me immediately to messages and enabled me to prioritize responses and limit interruptions. This really may seem so minor, but changed the entirety of my day. It allowed me to be a more focused, efficient, and present nurse for my patients and their families.

As a nurse, I want to feel like a Prime member. I know what I want to be a more efficient clinician, yet it doesn’t exist. I cannot recall the last time I searched for something on Amazon and didn’t find it. I know what’s necessary to achieve better outcomes for my patients. Why can’t my needs as a nurse be predicted, or even met, the way they are as a shopper?

Be Demanding, Have Expectations, Be Powerful.

The present and future of healthcare delivery is a sea of opportunity. Certainly for Amazon, but for us, nurses. It begins with the boots on the ground. It’s time that the plethora of data tucked right into the bedside be explored and utilized. The care delivery barriers will soon dissipate, so we can allocate our time and focus on what matters most — our patients and their outcomes. As innovation does make its way to the bedside, nurses will only become more powerful.

“It’s more than knowing how to perform tasks and procedures.” It’s about being effective, and demanding the tools and innovation that that requires. It goes beyond knowing what’s necessary to navigate clinical systems. It’s about translating our knowledge of the interwoven and varied issues within our healthcare delivery systems and making it actionable.

What opportunities for healthcare disruption do you experience?

What options exist within your health systems for creating transparency of care delivery needs?

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