“What if it just worked liked this?” the nurse quipped as she exited the patient room, exasperated? We do this all the time. We see a problem, and we work around it. We might do the work-around once or twice or and several times after that rather than stepping up and creating a “disruptive innovation” in medical equipment, patient care, or workflow processes. People often laugh when I say this, and I’m not sure why exactly because it’s true -- nurses make the best inventors.
Did you know that the NoNo Sleeve was developed by a nurse? And the pie chart? And what about the RFID-tagged SmartSponge system to track OR sponges during cases? And color-tinted IV tubing? And the Burns Wean Assessment Protocol? And the AliMed® Trendelenburg Positioner? All nurses!
Frontline nurses and other team members are often the ones who see the need for innovation, and many times we're the ones innovating and working around systems and processes on the spot. Often times, though, those work-arounds remain with one nurse or they’re passed from one nurse to the other without anyone sharing the creation or improvement widely with others. These ideas should be shared and shared widely. Healthcare systems should foster this ingenuity via key leaders and idea and product incubators, even.
Clinical innovation can happen on its own, but it’s unlikely. It takes people listening, talking, and thinking about ways to do patient care better and improve care tools. Innovation at the bedside is the entire concept of Transforming Care at the Bedside, also known as TCAB, which allows frontline team members to innovate and take the mess -- both literally and figuratively -- out of medical-surgical nursing delivery.
TCAB’s rapid-cycle process allows nurses and other healthcare professionals to quickly see a problem, innovate, implement, evaluate, and then disseminate that care improvement to others. There are plentiful and beautiful TCAB ideas that have transformed patient care -- all starting with one idea.
What examples of frontline innovation have you seen in your workplace? How does your organization foster creativity and ingenuity among staff? How can we as oncology healthcare professionals move from work-arounds to widespread system innovation and improvements?