Healthcare is in a constant state of evolution. The rise of nursing innovation has the potential to support the need to find optimal solutions to issues that impact the care delivery continuum. Possible areas for innovation include tools and technology, but also concepts, workflows and training.
Innovation pathways create opportunities for collaboration in which nurses may lead and support cross-disciplinary efforts. One potential pathway discussed by the panellists is the development of a healthcare innovation center, which may be structured as its own department or part of a broader organization to support research or nursing operations. The panelists indicated that an innovation center could engage nurses in its activities, as well as staff from IT and informatics.
Multiple players in the healthcare space, such as academic centers, professional organizations, and healthcare enterprises are all committing to the benefits of innovation by establishing a variety of pathways to achieve it. Using pathways for process improvement at the University of Pennsylvania Health System, nurses set out to improve medication reconciliation at the time of discharge. They began by demonstrating that patients discharged from the medical surgical units have fewer medication discrepancies, and less likelihood of medication errors, when two RNs reviewed a patient’s discharge instructions as well as their associated prescribed medications.11 As a result of their work, a “discharge time out” process was instituted at their facility.
Another example of a nursing innovation pathway is the American Nurses Association’s ANA Innovation Awards, sponsored by BD. This recently launched competition allows individual and nurse-led teams to apply for a monetary award to help develop innovative ideas, with the goal of transforming patient safety and outcomes. Nurse applicants are able to submit innovations related to translational research, development, prototyping, production, testing, and implementation efforts.13
Based on their experience in supporting nursing innovation, the HIMSS Innovation in Nursing Practice panelists considered hackathons, shark tank events and pitch sessions to be important opportunities for nurses to work with members of other groups and disciplines such as physicians, pharmacists and nutritionists.8 Judi Cullinane described collaboration as foundational—through collaboration, innovative ideas for nursing might be discovered or generated by anyone, at any level of an organization. In her opinion, nurses can lead a team along one of these pathways or participate as an essential member.8
Betty Jo Rocchio identified analytics as a significant area for collaboration in which nursing should be part of an overall strategy, but not the sole driver. She explained that, in her experience, a first step to innovate in this arena is for nurses—as the primary data collectors—to gather data to be analyzed. Beyond clinical insights, Rocchio believes there is a need for nurse innovators to have access to those with expertise in business, financial and strategic planning and future commercialization, as well.8