Three Nurses Transforming Healthcare: How the J&J Nurses Innovate QuickFire Challenge is Accelerating Innovation
From devices and care delivery models to tech solutions and beyond, the solutions nurses create have the power to transform healthcare. Since its inception in 2018, the Johnson & Johnson Nurses Innovate QuickFire Challenge series has invited nurses worldwide to submit their solutions, protocols, technologies, devices, and treatment approaches that can improve the healthcare experience for patients and providers alike.
Awardees received grant funding and access to support through JLABs innovation network. Over the last four years, the Johnson & Johnson Nurses Innovate QuickFire Challenge has awarded over $800,000 to 16 nurse-led projects.
But what happens to a transformative idea after it’s catalyzed through funding and support? To find out, we spoke with three trailblazing QuickFire Challenge alums. These nurse entrepreneurs shared how their start-ups and solutions are growing, evolving, and continuing to improve patient care.
The Power of Patient-Generated Data
As an oncology nurse and nurse scientist, Janet Van Cleave, BSN, MSN, PhD understands how painful and debilitating head and neck cancer can be.
“This patient population experiences severe fatigue, mouth pain, difficulty swallowing, and often anxiety and depression, making it difficult to communicate their symptoms,” says Van Cleave, an assistant professor at the New York University Rory Meyers College of Nursing.
Her research is focused on symptom science, as patients undergoing intense treatment for cancer require aggressive monitoring of their symptoms before, during and after therapy to help them complete their treatment on time, increase their chance of survival, and prevent serious long-term effects. However, current methods for gathering patient symptom data – emails, phone calls and additional visits – are largely inefficient and the lengthy process can be burdensome for patients and providers alike.
More data means a better chance of survival. To better compile symptom data and improve care for these patients, Van Cleave developed the Electronic Patient Visit Assessment (ePVA)©, a tech-based communication platform between a cancer patient and their care team. Built on the Touch2Care software platform, the ePVA questionnaire captures critical patient data in real time, facilitating faster intervention.
Since the QuickFire Challenge in 2019, the ePVA team has completed a pilot clinical trial. Preliminary results show the platform was associated with improved patient outcomes, including better social function and decreased average length of hospital stay. Currently, Van Cleave is studying EHR integration and health equity to further expand the reach and impact of ePVA.
“We have expanded our research infrastructure to include healthcare safety-net settings,” says Van Cleave, who has received federal and foundation funding and is beginning the move toward commercialization. “We’ve also tested a Spanish translation of the patient assessment to facilitate equal access to the platform.”
Van Cleave encourages other nurses to be bold in advancing their own ideas to help patients. “Our message for other nurse innovators is to dare to dream of a better future and be brave as you turn your dream into a reality.”
Nurse-Driven Virtual Support from Pregnancy to Parenthood
According to the March of Dimes, up to 6.9 million women and almost 500,000 births are impacted by maternity care deserts – counties where there’s a lack of maternity care resources. Moms and babies are at higher risk of injury or death when they are away from medical care pre- and postpartum. Johnson & Johnson Nurses Innovate QuickFire Challenge awardee Sigi Marmorstein is the founder of BabyLiveAdvice (BLA), a telehealth platform designed to help solve access to care challenges for patients and improve maternal-infant health outcomes.
BLA provides expectant mothers and parents live, professional online support and guidance from conception through baby’s first birthday via telehealth and virtual group classes. Made up of experienced and tech-savvy maternal/fetal nurses, nurse practitioners, midwives, lactation consultants and nutritionists, the team offers its virtual assistance in all 50 states and in over 56 languages through video translation partners.
Marmorstein is continuing work to expand the powerful telehealth program to the underserved in rural communities, urban deserts, and the Medicaid market, aiming to improve health outcomes for both mothers and their babies. The company recently announced $1.1 million in seed funding, featuring strategic investors across the obstetric care ecosystem, like Ob Hospitalist Group (OBHG), the nation’s largest and only dedicated OB hospitalist provider, the insurance organization CareFirst BCBS and hospital system LifeBridge Health.
Today, BabyLiveAdvice is working to extend virtual prenatal/postnatal education, as well as monitor chronic conditions, aid in smoking and substance abuse cessation, parental nutrition and mental health screening and support. The company services 42,000 mothers and babies and works with multiple healthcare providers and hospital systems to provide comprehensive prenatal, postpartum, and infant care.
Marmorstein believes the market is ripe for nurse innovators. “Stay focused and don’t let anyone tell you something can't be done!” she says. “Bringing an idea to market is full of challenges, so keep the goal in front of you and take it one day at a time.”
Learn more about BabyLiveAdvice on the SEE YOU NOW podcast.
Putting a Nurse at People’s Fingertips
Bre Loughlin, MS, RN, and self-described “tech-nerd nurse,” is the co-founder of Nurse Disrupted, an inventive telehealth solution originally born at the start of the pandemic.
To provide quick and convenient access to COVID screenings to the most vulnerable populations in her hometown of Madison, WI, Loughlin built and strategically installed care stations in the city’s shelters and community centers.
Each station featured a one-touch telehealth video connection and shipped in a single box, ready to plug in. Since then, Nurse Disrupted has expanded into providing urgently needed mental healthcare and is helping to close the access gap for some of the most vulnerable members of her community.
Once installed, health and mental health care providers are available on the patient-facing app 24/7, ready to tackle questions at the push of a button.
The response was immediate, as was the impact. Loughlin, who contracts with registered nurses, estimates that through Nurse Disrupted, she has connected more than 41,000 patients across 390 nurse providers and prevented 1,200 emergency department visits.
“Our largest nursing partner is Conduit Health Partners through Bon Secours Mercy Health,” says Loughlin, who has kicked off a seed 2 round of funding and recently partnered with Anesis Mental Health in Madison for a mental health pilot.
A forward thinker recently featured on the TODAY show Heroes Among Us segment sponsored by Johnson & Johnson, Loughlin is now working to expand Nurse Disrupted into hospitals to address the critical nursing shortage through virtual nursing. The first pilots are scheduled to launch early next year and will focus on admission and discharge workflows, and dual nurse medication verification. She sees a future where Nurse Disrupted expands even further into public spaces like grocery stores and shopping centers.
“Putting your own idea out there is terrifying,” says the dynamic nurse innovator. “But the difference between your idea succeeding or never being heard is you stepping off the curb.”
Learn more about Nurse Disrupted on the SEE YOU NOW podcast.
As nurses work in a variety of settings and in virtually every corner of every community, and spend the greatest amount of time in direct patient care, they are uniquely positioned to improve patient outcomes and healthcare as we know it. To learn how Johnson & Johnson champions the nursing profession and elevates nurse-led innovation that can transform human health, click here.