Healthcare is changing faster than ever before. Innovative thinking must exist at every level of our organization; it's never been more important. It can help us anticipate change, prepare for unexpected challenges and take advantage of opportunities. The University of Kansas Health System's new Innovation Central (iCentral) program allows our staff to use their creative brainpower to take our organization to the next level.
Rebecca Flynn, RN, knows how scary it can be for patients with a hearing disability, especially before and after surgery. Communication is very important. Operating room nurses must have a thorough understanding of the patients' medical history and their personal needs. Rebecca submitted an idea through iCentral to create a program to help our hearing-impaired patients communicate with staff using telecommunication technology. Through a cell phone, she speaks with an answering service, which transmits her questions for the patient onto a laptop or tablet screen. The patient then uses a keyboard to enter their answers onto the screen.
The new program is being piloted in the OR and other inpatient units. Every idea – big or small – can have a meaningful impact on transforming the way we deliver care. Through iCentral, our nurses are helping create sustainable change within our health system that will enable us to take even better care of our patients.
As a patient-centered medical home, our primary care clinics are strengthening patient and family relationships by being proactive partners in their care. Three pediatric clinics have recently become medical homes; they include locations at our main campus, Prairie Village and the Children's Campus in Kansas City, Kansas. Becoming a medical home involved teamwork among nurses, physicians, medical assistants and clinic staff. Our nurses worked diligently with the team to ensure the transition to a medical home was a smooth and seamless process.
The goal of the medical home model is to be patient-centered, team-based, comprehensive and coordinated. Our nurses provide personalized care to patients to help them manage their health across our system and beyond. Our nurses coordinate specialized services for patients with chronic illnesses, such as asthma, diabetes or cystic fibrosis. They educate patients about their medications, teach them how to use medical equipment, and coordinate access to social workers, dietitians and other support services. Because of their compassionate care, our nurses understand their patients' unique needs, culture, values and preferences. For any illness or injury that doesn't require a trip to the emergency room, families may use the online patient portal MyChart to schedule same-day appointments at the clinic or at one of our urgent care locations. This team-based approach also ensures we provide continuity to our patients year after year.
Nurses here have an extraordinary opportunity to advance their nursing education. We provide our nurses with tuition and certification reimbursement, and support an environment in which academic progression is highly valued, including paid internships, and mentor and preceptor training.
Our health system was honored as a Center of Excellence by the National League for Nursing for the educational opportunities we provide. We were recognized in the category Nursing Education – Creating Work Environments that Promote the Academic Progression of Nurses. The award honors healthcare facilities for supporting nurses' efforts to continue their academic preparation.
According to the National League of Nursing, Centers of Excellence are considered role models of visionary leadership and for nurturing the next generation of nurses. This is the second time our health system has received a Centers of Excellence designation from the National League for Nursing.
After they entered the room, the door quickly shut behind them. There was no turning back for this group of nurses. They were locked inside a "makeshift" patient room.
Their eyes quickly began to search the room. Padlocked boxes were randomly placed on tables, a crash cart was wrapped in string, and a mannequin was lying on a bed. They began to smile; some quietly chuckled and rubbed their hands together in anticipation.
The popular "escape room" game sweeping the country has made its way to our health system. The department of nursing's education and development creatively adapted the concept - with an educational twist.
The benefits are twofold: interactive games require nurses to work together as one team and use their clinical background to help achieve the best patient outcomes. The escape room was introduced to nurse residents this spring. It was also a popular session at this year's annual 5-Star Symposium. Throughout the year, our nurses have the opportunity to attend numerous symposiums on our main campus, Westwood and Indian Creek campuses, or by watching them online. These educational opportunities offer continuing education sessions, networking opportunities and enrichment zones.