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NurseHack4Health November 2021: A Virtual Hackathon for Nurses, By Nurses

NurseHack4Health promo graphic
ICYMI: Get inspired! Check out what happened during the latest NurseHack4Health hackathon. From improving onboarding for new nurses to addressing burnout, the winning innovations from the weekend had one common denominator: creating a more sustainable workforce for nurses.
Nursing News & ProgramsNurses Leading Innovation

NurseHack4Health November 2021: A Virtual Hackathon for Nurses, By Nurses


ICYMI: Get inspired! Check out what happened during the latest NurseHack4Health hackathon. From improving onboarding for new nurses to addressing burnout, the winning innovations from the weekend had one common denominator: creating a more sustainable workforce for nurses.
NurseHack4Health promo graphic

The fourth virtual hackathon in the NurseHack4Health series hosted by Johnson & Johnson, Society of Nurse Scientists, Innovators, Entrepreneurs and Leaders (SONSIEL) and Microsoft began with a message of hope from Dr. Peter Buerhaus, PhD, RN, FAAN, FAANP(h), nurse academic, researcher and healthcare economist: "We’re all here because we want a better future. We are here to envision a future for nursing. And when I reflect on the strengths of our profession and our collective potential, I’m optimistic.”

Designed to give nurses the unique opportunity to create solutions for challenges that directly impact them and their profession, the weekend-long virtual event was themed “building a sustainable nursing workforce of the future” and was a direct response to the urgent need to recruit and retain a diverse nursing workforce as a nursing shortage accelerates around the country. Nursing turnover is reaching nearly 20% per year, leading to a risk of decreased stability and quality in patient care and increasing health system costs.

Over the course of 48 hours, a diverse audience of innovators, including registered nurses, physicians, academics, nursing students, developers and design experts from 38 states and over 40 countries came together to focus on developing solutions for long-standing foundational challenges in the nursing workforce.

Our Nurse Innovation hackathons provide a unique experience for nurses to flex their innovation muscles and receive the support and motivation needed to bring their ideas to life and improve human health.

This group of dedicated “hackers” set off to turn their hopes and ideas for a sustainable nursing workforce into reality by focusing their efforts on one of four distinct “tracks” or problem areas—diversity in practice and care; education, upskilling and professional development; driving administrative efficiency in nurse-led care delivery; and open track.

Many, like Danika Meyer MSN, RN, NPD-BC, CPN, Senior Applications Systems Analyst at Cook Children’s Healthcare System, were first-time hackers motivated to participate because of the event’s focus on solving for issues they have witnessed or experienced themselves.

“The pandemic has only reinforced the broken system in which we work, and I knew that if solutions weren't provided now, the problem of attrition and burnout would only worsen at an even more exponential rate,” she said. “At my core, I am a nurse educator and mentor, and I wanted to learn how to lead effectively but also to learn how to turn the ideas I've had about helping our workforce into a reality. I knew that an event like NurseHack4Health would force me to do just that.”

The first task at hand for the hackers was to assemble teams that would turn a seed of an idea into a fully incubated innovation. Forming 16 teams, participants shared their experiences on the front lines and—through these often emotional and vulnerable conversations—began stitching together what would become their final solutions. It was the natural, compassion-driven collaboration with other nurses, designers, academics, nursing students, developers and design experts from around the world that kept many of the hackers inspired and energized throughout the weekend.

“With all the right people in one place, I knew there would be the possibility of starting something that could change the lives of so many for the better,” said Dimuth Kurukula, a Research and Sustainability Analyst at RDH Building Science Inc. and a repeat NurseHack4Health participant.

From creating a gig app to bring flexibility to workforce models to improving onboarding for new nurses to addressing burnout and approaching patient acuity holistically, the winning solutions all had one thing in common: the ability to affect real change for the nursing profession. Ultimately, the judges identified four teams—Track Stars—whose innovations were the most innovative, scalable, feasible and impactful.

“We know that nurses are natural innovators who have the creativity and insight to solve so many challenges in healthcare,” said Lynda Benton, Senior Director of Strategic Initiatives at Johnson & Johnson. “Bringing nurses together to help solve for the very problems and barriers that directly impact them on a daily basis is a critical step in transforming the future of our healthcare system.”

The four Track Stars included the following teams:

Solving for nurse burnout, which has been exacerbated by COVID-19, with cloud-based software for hospitals and facilities to assess, reaffirm and reset nurses’ mental health.
Track: Diversity in Practice and Care
Team Members: Ryan Etzel, Layne Price, Sharonda Davis, Pak Chau, Rachel Harper, Kimberly Coston, Rob McKenna and Rashna Batliwala

Solving for the unpreparedness that new graduates and transferred nurses may feel without proper onboarding by providing an education marketplace for nurses, by nurses.
Track: Education, Upskilling and Professional Development
Team Members: Joanna Getek, Zayn Khamis, Dimuth Kurukula, Joey Lee and Ben Smieja

Bedside Nurse Assignment
Solving for care and acuity models that do not account for psychosocial or nonmedical needs of patients by creating a holistic acuity app.
Track: Driving Administrative Efficiency in Nurse-Led Care Delivery
Team Members: Nathan Rosenburg, Lara Jaquemai, Rachel Ng, Samu Mhlambi

Price is Right
Solving for the reverse pipeline nursing model — for retired nurses or those who have moved away from the bedside — through a gig app approach.
Track: Open Track
Team Members: Bet Key Wong, Jessica Smith-Amara, Javier Alvarado, Martin Cisneros

“After suffering from burnout myself and making a major change in my career, this hackathon gave me hope,” said Sharonda Davis, RN, BSN, a Chest Pain Coordinator at Mount Sinai Medical Center in Miami Beach, FL. “Honestly, I felt my brain come alive again, like when I was in nursing school. My colleagues and all of the wonderful organizers and speakers inspired me. The innovation that I witnessed and participated in gave me hope for the future of healthcare.”

At the beginning of the hackathon, most hackers saw themselves as nurses, students or practitioners, but after the event, many expressed how they now see themselves and the future of their workforce in a new light.

Elizabeth Perpetua, DNP, ACNP-BC, FACC, the founder of Empath Health Services LLC, a tech-enabled consulting practice, explains that "it was electrifying to feel part of a community of like-minded and like-hearted nurses and colleagues who want to innovate and transform healthcare. NurseHack4Health is vital for nurses to realize that we are at the forefront of innovation and that we are innovators."

Over the weekend, the ideas and solutions presented at NurseHack4Health sparked renewed optimism, empowering nurses to envision a new future for their profession. These innovators will go on to shape this future for their workforce, developed for nurses and by nurses.


For any nurse interested in further developing their innovation and entrepreneurial skills, there is still time to register for the Drexel-SONSIEL Nurse Innovation and Entrepreneurship Program. Registration closes on December 29, 2021. Nurses are also invited to submit their ideas to a new Johnson & Johnson Nurses Innovate QuickFire Challenge: Healthcare Transformation through Nurse-Led Tech for the opportunity to receive grant funding up to $100,000 and mentoring from experts across the Johnson & Johnson Family of Companies to help bring their solution to life.

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