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Our design team brought our first prototypes into the field for testing with nurses and patients. We are starting slowly. 4 small prototypes, 2 hour sessions.

We started with nurses who know us and are engaged in the project. But still, it is intimidating to bring foam core and markers onto a working hospital floor to interact with people who are very sick. Which is why, for these first concepts, we are using a “resource nurse.” We have hired an extra nurse for a full shift who can either test the ideas him/herself, or can duplicate the work done by the nurse who is testing our concept.

For our first concept, Tom, our resource nurse, tested out the “Understanding Globe.” This concept asks nurses to spend 5 focused minutes with each patient, supported by 5 broad questions that ask patients how they are, and a globe that is on a timer, it glows softly for 5 minutes. When the globe stops glowing, the nurse has a graceful cue to conclude the conversation and continue on with her/his other tasks.

Tom chose one nurse working on the floor and asked her if he could meet with each of her patients, to try out this concept. Sonya gave Tom a brief description of each of her 5 patients (very brief, she was running behind on meds). Tom then introduced him to the first patient, explained that he was trying out a new idea, and began the conversation. When the globe turned off, he gently ended the conversation and said good-bye. He repeated this with 4 more patients. Tom really enjoyed the activity, but he is a nurse who enjoys taking time with patients.

Our real proof of concept will come when Tom needs to work this into his regular workday, and when a nurse who typically rushes through patient interactions in order to complete an ever-growing task list, can actually see the value in 5 focused minutes with patients. But first things first.

Tom discovered that two patients were having problems with their pain medications. One was not receiving doses in time to stop the pain. Another was having an adverse reaction to the pain medicine, terrible headaches. His nurse hadn’t taken the time to explain the side effects of the pain medication, so Tom followed up with his nurse to switch the prescription. Additionally, a woman with a recent MS diagnosis was having a hard time dealing with the emotion of it. She told Tom she talks to her husband about it, but Tom suggested she might also meet with the hospital social worker. And Tom made a phone call to set that up.

Our prototypes will be measured in pilot tests, with Time & Motion studies and other metrics. While we are out in the field refining our concepts we need to keep our eyes open for potential clinical measures of success, and customer satisfaction is not one of them. We may be able to measure the success of this concept by tracking additional referrals to other services and better pain management programs. Eventually with the hope that both of these will lead to faster recovery times and shortened stays in the hospital.

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