Accountable Healthcare - Disruptive Innovation for the Unstoppable Nurse
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August 24, 2020

Disruptive Innovation for the Unstoppable Nurse

I consider myself an early adopter of new technology and innovation. However, many times in the hospital it seems we are way behind the rest of the world. The silver lining during the pandemic has been the explosion of innovations during the past six months. The need to find solutions in a rapidly changing environment, to be more efficient, and to keep ourselves and our patients safe has made creativity a priority. You have probably seen some ideas in your healthcare system, in the news or on social media. My favorite innovations are:

  • Headbands with buttons
  • Equipment outside the patient’s room with extension tubing
  • 3D printing of personal protective equipment
  • Virtual rounds using apps like FaceTime that include families
  • Expanded use of telehealth
  • Robots
  • Creative staffing models to meet the needs of high-acuity patients and increased census 

All these ideas, small or large and simple or complex, are built on evidence in order to advance our profession. Staying future-focused also means understanding what you can and cannot control in your environment. What is possible to achieve? What barriers can we remove? 

A great resource for getting started is based on the concept of liberating structures, which means putting the innovative power once reserved for experts in the hands of everyone. There are 33 liberating structures (and a liberating structures app). One of them uses the 15% solution coined by Gareth Morgan, a researcher from Canada. The 15% is any first step or solution without approval or resources from others that is entirely within your discretion to act upon. It is something that you can start right now. Triggering a big change can start small. Focus on what is possible versus what is not possible. As the saying goes, “You can change the flow of a river by moving a few rocks.”

In nursing, we must appreciate the value of innovation. But how do we continue this momentum of disruptive innovation in nursing? 

  • Share your ideas, and listen to all other ideas even if they don’t seem possible at first.
  • Support others who are creative.
  • Know that you don’t have to be the innovator to lead innovation.
  • Motivate others to share their ideas even if they don’t see them as useful innovations.
  • Leverage the energy in your health system to build innovation.
  • Know that the best ideas may come from unexpected sources.
  • Realize that shifting a few grains of sand can create a landslide and change the landscape; you don’t have to have the whole idea developed. 

The closest clinician to the patient is the bedside nurse. This relationship puts nursing in the unique position to harness the nurse-patient relationship through expert knowledge. Nurses leading innovation helps transform healthcare and improve patient outcomes.

Original article by: Megan E. Brunson AACN.ORG