Walking in a patient’s shoes can offer nursing staff a unique perspective and spark ideas to improve patients’ hospital experiences. To that end, Sharp Grossmont Hospital recently opened the doors to its Innovations Unit, a new program that seeks to improve the patient experience through cutting-edge, creative patient care.
The Innovations Unit houses patients needing general medical care and serves as a unique environment where unit staff members are encouraged to share and pilot new ideas and, if successful, move them into production hospitalwide. It is one of only a handful of units of its kind in the nation.
In short, the Innovations Unit will track how nurses deliver care to patients, and will test other models that could enhance a patient’s hospital stay.
To help spawn new ideas, a mock hospital room, sans patients, allows caregivers to experience care from the other side of the gurney. Here, staff can lie in the hospital bed (Can all patients really read the white board?), use the bathroom (Could the layout be improved?) and in general offer ideas by simply looking at the unit through the eyes of a patient.
The unit will also serve as a training ground for new technology, like access to medical records via smartphones and providing mobile devices for nurses.
“Using mobile technology allows nurses to examine critical records in real time, and even gives patients the opportunity to call staff directly,” says Louise White, vice president of patient care at Sharp Grossmont Hospital. The unit’s leadership will grant funding for nursing and innovative research opportunities.
Pat Burmester, the unit’s manager, says the nurses selected for the new unit emphasized their own passion for innovation and changes in the delivery of care. “The nursing staff is asked to cultivate their own ideas to improve the ultimate outcome of each patient’s care,” says Burmester. “They’ll be challenged to determine what nursing team structure works best for the staff — and, ultimately, for patients.”
Burmester is pleased that the nursing staff comes from a broad geographical background, bringing best practices from various hospitals across the nation. “This allows clinical and experience best practices to be shared among staff, with the goal of selecting those practices that create a stellar process of our own.”