200 Nurses, One Goal: Powering Up Innovation to Transform Healthcare
Last month, more than 200 nurses of all levels, backgrounds and experiences from around the country and the world came together near Johnson & Johnson World Headquarters in New Brunswick, New Jersey for the inaugural SONSIEL Nurse Hackathon, sponsored by Johnson & Johnson. The Hackathon was a weekend of networking, collaboration and innovative thinking aimed at finding solutions to the problems nurses experience every day as they deliver care to patients. Over the course of the weekend, nurses bonded, brainstormed, developed and pitched incredible solutions to key issues in healthcare delivery and walked away from the event energized and encouraged that their ideas – and they themselves – can help lead the transformation of healthcare.
“We were thrilled to partner with SONSIEL for a dedicated ‘nurse hackathon,’ and the event proved to be an inspiring example of how innovative nurses recognize and act upon opportunities to improve health care,” said Lynda Benton, Senior Director of Corporate Equity at Johnson & Johnson, who leads the Johnson & Johnson commitment to nurses. “Our Hackathon created a unique experience for many of these nurses in an environment where they felt supported and motivated to bring their ideas to life. We heard time and again that ‘nobody does this for nurses,’ and it was a privilege to provide this experience to these incredible, diverse nurse leaders.”
Hackathons started within the technology space but have been used more broadly as a way to solve challenges by bringing problem solvers of a variety of backgrounds and disciplines together to “hack” solutions. But nurses, despite being natural problem solvers, have rarely been featured as key contributors in these events, despite their deep patient experience and resourcefulness. The Nurse Hackathon provided this unique space dedicated to nurses and the challenges they face, as well as an opportunity for nurses interested in innovation to find like-minded colleagues and build confidence in themselves as innovators.
“Nurses are rarely given the opportunity to take the stage at innovation events. Our Nurse Hackathon provided them the chance to take the stage for three entire days and take ownership of the problems they are seeing in healthcare – at the bedside and beyond,” said Rebecca Love, President, Society of Nurse Scientists Innovators Entrepreneurs & Leaders (SONSIEL). “The nurses that came to this event weren’t interested in fame or financial gain – they were genuinely passionate about taking their great solutions from ideation to implementation to improve health outcomes and empower their patients to live better lives.”
Lynda Benton kicked off the Hackathon by providing an overview of nurse innovation throughout history and the Johnson & Johnson commitment to the nursing profession. SONSIEL Founding Members Rebecca Love and Hiyam Nadel, RN, MBA, BSN, CGC, Director of the Center for Innovations in Care Delivery, Massachusetts General Hospital, offered an overview of how the Nurse Hackathon would run and invited nurses to line up at the stage to “pitch” their healthcare problem. Nearly 30 nurses took the stage to share their ideas for improving healthcare, from a tape dispenser aiming to reduce hospital-acquired infections to a video game providing allergy education, a compression device to prevent blood clots to a program to train youth and other community members in first response techniques. After the pitches, the nurses divided into teams and immediately started brainstorming on how they could solve for their chosen healthcare challenge.
On day two, Hackathon attendees listened to presentations on design thinking, crafting the perfect pitch and creating cultures of innovation from nurse leaders Marion Leary, RN, MSN, MPH, Director of Innovation, University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing, Hiyam Nadel, RN, MBA, BSN, CGC, Director of the Center for Innovations in Care Delivery, Massachusetts General Hospital, and Nicole Lincoln, MS, RN, CCNS-BC, FNP-BC, CCRN, Director of Innovation, Boston Medical Center. They then took this inspiration back to their teams and spent the day addressing their challenge.
After a day of working as teams on developing their solutions, the nurses were invited to attend an evening screening of the documentary 5B, commissioned by Johnson & Johnson, which shares the stories of the bold nurses in San Francisco General Hospital’s HIV/AIDS unit, Ward 5B, who defied convention and embraced an innovative approach to care for patients with AIDS in the 1980s, establishing a new standard of care. The inspiring film brought both laughter and tears to the nurses in the room and helped keep the nurses motivated and focused on the bigger picture – that they have the potential to create solutions that impact patients and communities in their most critical times of need.
On the final day, after working furiously for two days on their "hacks," the teams were able to take their ideas and develop them into practical solutions, building a full presentation that covered the core problem they were trying to solve, market information, their key target, pricing and more. Nineteen enthusiastic teams presented their solutions to a panel of seven judges, some of whom offered to sponsor some of the ideas and connect nurse teams with experts during pitches.
Taking first place was Team Night Vision who, building off tools used in the military, created a red and blue light device that could be hung from nurse lanyards to better enable patient care at night without waking the patient. The goal of this device is to limit disturbing patients while they’re getting much-needed rest and prevent other mistakes that could occur in darkness, such as reading orders incorrectly or errors in administering medication.
The solution that took second place was Team Sudsee, who presented a soap that would change color after the preferred amount of time for hand washing aiming to decrease the amount of hospital-acquired infections. The third place solution was Team Room Service, who presented a platform to help improve the efficiency and transparency of food delivery within hospitals and decrease the amount of time nurses spend coordinating food so that more time could be spent in patient care. Several solutions received other recognition, including Team Telehope, who pitched a platform to help bridge gaps in access to mental health services, winning the Audience Choice Award, and Team NICE Nurse Innovation Model, who proposed a program to help encourage the progression of nurse innovation within health systems, winning the Social Impact Award.
Also on the last day of the Hackathon, the nurses of the inaugural cohort of the Johnson & Johnson Nurse Innovation Fellowship participated in a panel discussion on why innovation is critical to the betterment of the profession, sharing their personal stories about what inspires them and providing insights to the audience on what they all collectively could achieve. The Fellows are nurse innovation leaders from across the country who were invited to share their stories to further inspire attendees and connect with those in the audience who were at differing levels of innovation and stages in their career. Many of the Fellows shared their desire to start their own Nurse Hackathons back home and emphasized the importance of nurses supporting each other in innovation.
We’re so proud to have sponsored such a meaningful event and we’re thrilled at the overwhelmingly positive response the Nurse Hackathon has received throughout the nurse innovation community. The Hackathon was a living example of how Johnson & Johnson is continuing its 120-year commitment in advocating for and supporting the nursing profession. We were excited to connect with the incredible nurses who are compassionately and innovatively caring for patients and transforming health around the world. We are proud to have provided this space for innovative nurse leaders and look forward to hosting another Nurse Hackathon in fall of 2020. Stay tuned for more updates on our second Nurse Hackathon coming soon during 2020: The Year of the Nurse!
Weren't able to attend the event? Catch some of our favorite moments from the 2019 Nurse Hackathon here: