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Nursing News HighlightsNurses Leading Innovation

Powering-up COVID-19 Patient Care Innovation with the Awardees of our Johnson & Johnson Nurses Innovate QuickFire Challenge

Together with AONL and SONSIEL, we’re thrilled to announce the Awardees of the Johnson & Johnson Nurses Innovate QuickFire Challenge in COVID-19 Patient Care: Jennifer Stinson, nurse scientist from The Hospital for Sick Children, and Kathleen Malouf, pediatric nurse at Monmouth Medical Center.

The COVID-19 health crisis has placed health systems around the world under immense strain, forcing many nurses and other health workers to adapt and innovate to deliver patient care. As part of our overall commitment to supporting frontline healthcare workers and to help foster and amplify the innovative solutions that have emerged throughout this health crisis, Johnson & Johnson collaborated with the American Organization for Nurse Leadership (AONL) and the Society of Nurse Scientists, Innovators, Entrepreneurs & Leaders (SONSIEL) in August 2020 to launch the Johnson & Johnson Nurses Innovative QuickFire Challenge in COVID-19 Patient Care.

Inspired by the innovative nurse-led solutions that emerged from the NurseHack4Health virtual nurse hackathon in May 2020, this Challenge invited nurses from around the world to share their novel ideas aimed at improving patient care during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond. After receiving hundreds of applications, we are excited to announce that the Awardees of this Challenge are Jennifer Stinson, RN-EC, PhD, CPNP, nurse scientist at The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) in Toronto, Canada, and Kathleen Malouf, BS, BSN, RN-BC, CBC, CSRN, pediatric nurse at Monmouth Medical Center in Long Branch, New Jersey.

“COVID-19 has brought forth many new healthcare challenges, and it was inspiring to see nurses once again applying innovative thinking to create potential solutions aiming to improve and transform healthcare,” said Lynda Benton, Senior Director, Corporate Equity at Johnson & Johnson. “We were thrilled to partner with AONL and SONSIEL in a Challenge that could both spotlight and support the ingenuity of nurses on the front line that we’ve seen throughout this pandemic.”

The Johnson & Johnson Notes on Nursing team recently spoke with nurse innovators Jennifer and Kathleen to learn more about how being awarded the Johnson & Johnson Nurses Innovate QuickFire Challenge in COVID-19 Patient Care can help them advance their potential solutions.

Innovating Pain Rehab Delivery

Jennifer Stinson, RN-EC, PhD, CPNP, a nurse scientist at The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) in Toronto, Canada, is leading a team in the development of a novel rehabilitation treatment: Pain Rehabilitation Virtual Reality (PR-VR). PR-VR allows children and adolescents with chronic pain to receive treatment at home instead of in a hospital or doctor’s office.

J&J: What was the healthcare challenge you were looking to help solve?

Jennifer: To encourage children with chronic pain to engage in exercise as part of their rehabilitative treatment, we developed Pain Rehabilitation Virtual Reality (PR-VR), a new technology that is unlike any software on the market because it uses custom software with gaming features designed to help motivate children to move their body and interact with virtual environments as part of their treatment. PR-VR is unique because it’s fun for the children, it has the power to be customized to their individual needs, to target their painful areas and track their progress.

In 2019, SickKids partnered with Stanford Chariot Program to implement PR-VR as a rehabilitation treatment in-hospital, but the COVID-19 pandemic caused us to transition our plans. Now, nearly all of our chronic pain rehabilitation treatments, once delivered exclusively face-to-face, are being delivered virtually. Despite the fact that physiotherapy is challenging to deliver virtually because of limited equipment at home to support age appropriate, play-based exercises, continuation of pain rehabilitation is important to help children improve their physical function, manage their pain and improve their overall quality of life. This drove us to make PR-VR possible for at-home use. SickKids and Stanford Chariot Program worked together to make significant modifications to the software to make it compatible with less costly and complex VR hardware.

J&J: How does PR-VR help address this challenge?

Jennifer: Even in a virtual setting, continuation of pain rehabilitation is important to help children with chronic pain improve their physical function, manage their pain and improve their overall quality of life. Exercise is necessary for this, but it can be an immediately painful experience that children may fear and avoid. Platforms like PR-VR allow exercise to be fun, engaging and distracting from the pain through unique gaming experiences that are tailored to their specific needs. For example, if the child has pain in their right leg, the game can be customized to focus on lower limb movements and place all the objects in the virtual world in the right visual field. It can also be customized for a patient’s mobility needs, such as incorporating the use of a wheelchair. Our solution offers children with an enhanced, immersive experience where they feel like they have been transported to a virtual world that motivates them with features like point scoring, competition, music and positive reinforcement while they are receiving treatment.

J&J: What does being awarded this Challenge mean for your solution?

Jennifer: Being awarded the Johnson & Johnson Nurses Innovate QuickFire Challenge will enable us to pilot and deliver the at-home PR-VR program to children with chronic pain, especially during a time when many hospitals have made a rapid switch to virtual care, with the hopes of eventually scaling up the program to help children across the country and around the world. At-home equipment for virtual care can also be expensive, so during our pilot at-home PR-VR program we will loan VR hardware to patients at no cost to them to help ensure the same quality of care and create the added benefit of having the technology available for practice in-between treatment sessions.

J&J: Do you have any advice for other nurses seeking to develop their innovative ideas?

Jennifer: I would advise other nurses to believe in the value of their insights. When SickKids partnered with the Stanford Chariot Program to bring PR-VR technology to the hospital in 2019, we had no idea COVID-19 would present challenges in the implementation of our plans. As a nurse in the Chronic Pain Clinic at SickKids, I knew that I could bridge the gaps that exist between the latest evidence and what is being used in everyday practice. My unique lens gives me the ability to identify these gaps and contribute to evidence-based research that can be quickly implemented into everyday clinical care. I would also tell nurses not to be afraid to seek out and collaborate with partners, particularly in developing technological solutions to clinical problems.

Our collaborative efforts and our interdisciplinary team allowed us to combine expertise from our individual areas and make an end-product that can be easy to use, appealing to patients and specific to the rehabilitation setting. Engaging patient partners in the co-design process is incredibly important to ensuring the successful implementation of this solution.

Hear more from Dr. Jennifer Stinson in her own words:

Making COVID-19 Patient Care More Efficient

Kathleen Malouf, BS, BSN, RN-BC, CBC, CSRN, a pediatric nurse from Monmouth Medical Center in Long Branch, New Jersey, is the inventor of the IsoPouch, a simple, disposable, transparent pouch that adheres to an isolation gown. The pouch can help health workers quickly and easily gather supplies and preserve personal protective equipment (PPE).

J&J: What was the healthcare challenge you were looking to help solve?

Kathleen: We were looking to support delivery of more efficient and safe patient care – a need that escalated significantly while caring for COVID-19 patients. Back in April, I was redeployed from my job in Pediatric Medical Day Stay to be a nurse extender in our new COVID-19 intensive care unit. I was accustomed to using my scrub pockets to hold everything I would need when caring for my pediatric patients, but when I shifted to caring for COVID-19 patients and wearing layers of PPE, my pockets became inaccessible and I found myself unable to hold all of the supplies I needed when visiting a patient’s room. There would be supplies that I would forget or supplies that either I or a team member would drop on the floor and therefore waste—and sometimes we had to open doors to shout for assistance with a forgotten item. This was not an ideal situation when we needed to minimize moving in and out of patient care rooms, and preserve PPE. We simply needed a simple, efficient, safe way to access our medical supplies needed for patient care, when we could no longer rely on safely accessing our pockets!

I noticed a lot of my fellow nurses were having the same problem and began to think about a solution. What we needed was a pocket for our isolation gowns—almost like a fanny pack—that could help store supplies, stick on and come off easily with our isolation gowns, and wouldn’t interfere with our PPE. That led me to create the IsoPouch, which is short for Isolation Pouch.

J&J: How does IsoPouch help address this challenge?

Kathleen: IsoPouch fits into and supports a nurses’ natural workflow in caring for COVID-19 patients. Nurses use the pouch to gather the supplies they will need before entering a patient care room. Don their PPE, and stick the pouch to the gown. When finished, just doff the pouch with the gown. It’s a simple solution, but it has the potential to help nurses and other frontline health workers provide more sanitary and efficient care, especially in high-stress environments like ICUs.

J&J: What does being awarded this Challenge mean for your solution?

Kathleen: For the longest time, I’ve been keeping a list on my phone of ideas that could help improve patient care or our daily workflow. When I heard about this Johnson & Johnson Nurses Innovate QuickFire Challenge from our Magnet Program Director, I thought it would be a great opportunity. It means so much to be recognized for one of my ideas. I’m really looking forward to the mentorship and the funding to help me further develop my prototypes of the IsoPouch, begin manufacturing, explore different sizes and materials, and pursue a patent. I want to focus on getting this product to those on the front lines of this health crisis first, but I also know there are opportunities to expand this beyond healthcare to other industries that use isolation gowns, such as nuclear, chemical, aerospace and even the food industry.

J&J: Do you have any advice for other nurses seeking to develop their innovative ideas?

Kathleen: I am very proud to be recognized as a nurse innovator. Nurses are not conditioned to be thought of as innovators, but nurses are in the trenches of healthcare every day, so our insights are vital in innovation. We are constantly adapting, growing, changing, learning and overcoming obstacles. I would encourage nurses with great ideas to take a leap of faith. Come forward with your ideas and products, because just by believing in yourself, you can change healthcare. It’s within your power.

Hear more from Jennifer Malouf about her potential solution:

Being awarded the Johnson & Johnson Nurses Innovate QuickFire Challenge means nurse innovators Jennifer and Kathleen and their teams will gain access to funding and support to help move their innovations forward, including grant funding of up to $100,000, mentoring and training opportunities from the Johnson & Johnson Family of Companies, and access to the Johnson & Johnson Innovation – JLABS ecosystem, which helps innovators accelerate discovery and get operational support to bring their healthcare solutions to life.

Innovate with us! Learn more about the Johnson & Johnson Nurses Innovate QuickFire Challenge series and meet past Awardees here. Follow @JNJNursing on Facebook and Twitter to stay up-to-date on upcoming 2021 Challenge opportunities.

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