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Nursing Innovation

Innovative ideas and practices offer new solutions to old problems. Innovation disrupts the status quo by transforming our experience; it is not about working harder or faster, but working smarter to shape the future of care. Nurses are well-known for their creativity and imagination when solving patient care dilemmas. At BWH, nurses unlock their creativity and bring innovations to the practice setting in order to find solutions that ultimately improve outcomes for populations of patients. Using technology like Google Glass in new and different ways so a mother can see her sick baby sooner, decreasing distress and promoting a strong maternal bond is one example.

Innovation comes from identifying solutions to problems that affect our practice and our patients as well as from piloting, operationalizing and optimizing solutions until incorporated into our clinical workflow. For example, in the fall of 2014, the Department of Nursing began a pilot study to test a new method of observation called continuous virtual monitoring (CVM), as a safeguard for patients at high risk for falls. With this technology, a monitoring device is placed in a patient’s room and a patient care assistant (PCA) in a central location can see and hear a live stream of patients in multiple rooms and speak privately with each patient.

Nurses at BWH are involved in many innovative projects and activities to improve workflow, efficiency, and most importantly, patient care. Below is a sample of some of the innovative programs spearheaded by nurses at BWH.

Reducing Pressure Ulcers

Pressure ulcers and their associated complications are contributors to increased length of stay and cost of care, so a team of nurses within the BWH Medical Intensive Care Unit (MICU) developed a comprehensive approach to reduce their prevalence. Using a “Clinical Scene Investigators” (CSI) grant from the American Association of Critical Care Nurses to fund the project, they developed an educational program about pressure ulcer prevention, collected data to learn more about the causes of pressure ulcers and incorporated new products and equipment that would address these causes. This program resulted in a 68 percent decrease in pressure ulcer incidence and a significant cost savings.

Sharing Ideas

Each year, the BWH Hackathon, a collaboration between BWH and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), sparks dialogue that encourages new ideas to solve problems in the clinical setting. During the annual event, nurses, students and other BWH staff contribute their thoughts and brainstorm creative ways to solve problems.

Reducing Stress

Nurses on the BWH Intermediate Vascular Care Unit have created a strategy for stress reduction in the workplace by incorporating caring and healing modalities. Following their motto, “Be well, work well,” they created a meditation room, where nurses can go to de-stress. They also sponsor a series of health and wellness fairs for nurses, featuring nutrition education, Reiki, massage, meditation, music and other resources to help nurses regain focus after stressful events at work.

Relationship Building and Collaboration

Building trust between nurses and physicians starts early with our Medical Student Nurse Mentor program, created in partnership with nurses and physicians. Third-year Harvard Medical School students are paired with BWH nurse mentors to build understanding, foster communication and connection. Nurses quickly become a mentor and friendly face for medical students as they begin their clinical rotations. In addition, Neonatal ICU nurses regularly host residents so they can observe, learn about neonatal care and assist with deliveries.

Increasing Education

BWH cardiac surgery nurses created a unit-based blog for the sharing of educational information from conferences, so that even if only one person could attend, the whole team could participate and learn.


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