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Nursing News HighlightsNurses Leading Innovation

NurseHack4Health: Propelling Nurse Innovation in the Year of the Nurse and Beyond

In the Year of the Nurse and amid COVID-19, nurses’ understanding of patient care issues and their innovative, problem-solving mindset has been instrumental in improving care and outcomes. Learn how the NurseHack4Health virtual hackathon provided nurses with a platform to bring new ideas forward.

One of the core challenges for frontline nurses, other healthcare workers and the general public during the COVID-19 pandemics has been figuring out how to adapt to rapidly changing information, overcome media misinformation and gain access to reliable public health information. That’s why Johnson & Johnson was proud to again partner with the Society of Nurse Scientists, Innovators, Entrepreneurs, & Leaders (SONSIEL), Microsoft and dev up to host NurseHack4Health: Pandemic Management – Improving Education and Communication from November 13 to 15, the second virtual hackathon in the NurseHack4Health series that aims to solve COVID-19 health challenges through pairing nursing knowledge with technology.

“The Year of the Nurse took on new meaning as COVID-19 unfolded. We know that nurses offer a critical frontline view, so it was vital that tap into their insights and provide a platform to help elevate their ideas to improve communication and education for COVID-19. Their solutions could help us better manage patient care during this pandemic and beyond,” said Rebecca Love, RN, MSN, FIEL, President of SONSIEL.

United by the common goal of developing solutions with the potential to improve healthcare amid the COVID-19 health crisis, the recent NurseHack4Health hackathon convened more than 450 nurses, other healthcare professionals, software developers, engineers and designers from more than 20 U.S. states and from nations around the world, including Australia, Canada, Ghana, Nigeria and Qatar. Over the course of the weekend, “hackers” formed 15 different teams and worked together to ideate and develop solutions ranging from a universal way to report health-related misinformation, to an app that can share accurate and real-time vaccine information, to a mental health platform for adolescents that leverages gamification.

“I don’t think that an event like this could have been more timely,” said Denise Streible, RN, Business Improvement Leader at Humana and NurseHack4Health participant on a team that created an app aiming to reduce hospital readmission rates by helping patients improve diet and nutrition to manage health conditions. “I think the world has been taken by surprise by the intensity of this pandemic. We had to really pivot, think on our feet and come up with solutions that will benefit everyone.”

Part of what made this hackathon so impactful was the opportunity for nurses to collaborate with tech experts such as software developers, designers and engineers to develop innovative ideas into minimally viable products that can be fast-tracked for further development and testing in a healthcare setting. NurseHack4Health presented a rare opportunity for nurse innovators to not just lend their patient-centered insights and collaborate on multidisciplinary teams, but to propel their solutions beyond ideation.

“It was great to have developers and programmers with an understanding of the backend of the technology participating in the hackathon to help guide our team,” said LeAnthony Mathews, RN, MBA, MS, BSN, CPHIMS, Informatics Strategist at RWJBarnabas Health and NurseHack4Health participant. “Right now, there is a huge communication barrier on the frontlines of healthcare with nurses and clinicians wearing masks. The hearing-impaired population that needs to see facial expressions and mouths to communicate is being left out. Our solution was a universal translator that could help bridge that communication gap by leveraging QR codes.”

Lynda Benton, Senior Director, Corporate Equity at Johnson & Johnson, emphasized that nurses aren’t often provided with forums to share and develop their ideas to improve healthcare. “As part of our overall commitment to supporting frontline health workers, we were proud to offer a second NurseHack4Health because multidisciplinary hackathons can serve as a vital channel for nurses to demonstrate leadership and impact in healthcare innovation,” she said. “It was incredibly inspiring for me to see first-time hackers, nursing students and practicing nurses all sharing a screen with innovators from around the world, leveraging their first-hand experiences to help address some of the key challenges COVID-19 has raised.”

The NurseHack4Health virtual hackathon series began in May 2020 to provide a virtual community where nurses, other frontline health workers, developers, engineers and tech enthusiasts could work together to find solutions to some of the immediate COVID-19 challenges. And as the pandemic continues to evolve and new challenges come to light, the NurseHack4Health virtual hackathon series will continue to convene nurses and serve as a vital platform for amplifying and elevating nurse-led innovation with the potential to transform healthcare.

“The solutions that the teams have presented at our NurseHack4Health events have been truly powerful,” said Molly McCarthy, MBA, RN-BC, National Director of U.S. Health Providers and Plans at Microsoft U.S. Health and Life Sciences. “We know that by pairing the innovative and patient-centered minds of nurses with tech experts, we can provide nurses with the development support that they need and take healthcare innovation to the next level.”

Renee Davis, MSN, RN, NPD-BC, Principal CEO of ProDevo Design and Consulting Group was a NurseHack4Health participant whose team focused on an app with up-to-date vaccination information to help educate patients and reduce vaccine hesitancy. “I wanted to participate in NurseHack4Health because I felt the need to address the challenges of COVID-19 education and communication. It looked like it was going to be this think tank of fantastic people getting together to solve complex problems, and I wanted to be a part of it,” she said. “It was awesome to be able to represent nursing and nursing education and collaborate with amazing minds on something that can potentially have such a huge impact on healthcare.”

Want to learn more about the nurses in our most recent NurseHack4Health hackathon? Watch our recap video below!

Mark your calendars for our next NurseHack4Health virtual hackathon which is scheduled to take place over the weekend of May 14 to 16, 2021!

Whether you’re a first-time “hacker” or a hackathon veteran, we invite you to join our rapidly growing community of nurse innovators and others who are addressing today’s greatest healthcare challenges. Visit nursehack4health.org early next year to register, and in the meantime, visit our Innovation 101 Hub to enhance your innovation and design thinking skills.

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