Advances in technology are helping healthcare providers improve outcomes for patients of all ages. At the Ward Family Heart Center at Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City, Mo., using an inter-disciplinary team called CHAMP® (Cardiac High Acuity Monitoring Program), nurses like Lori Erickson, MSN, CPNP-PC, CHAMP clinical program manager, are saving lives of babies born with single ventricle heart disease who are in the critical inter-stage period between the first and second stages of surgery.
CHAMP provides families with a tablet PC that has a proprietary app installed to enable nearly-instantaneous in-home monitoring and to improve communication during this vulnerable time, while allowing the infants and their families to spend more time at home. We had the chance to speak with Lori about the program, the importance of technology in nursing, the future of patient care, and more.
Nursing Notes (NN): Can you share a little bit about your nursing background and what led you to your current position?
Lori Erickson: I have always been intrigued by the hemodynamic process and true strength of the infants with congenital heart disease. I started working as a single ventricle and fetal cardiology Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN) position at Children’s Mercy in 2012, and transitioned to the CHAMP single ventricle APRN as both programs expanded in July 2017.
NN: Can you tell us about the development of CHAMP® and how you got involved?
Lori: The basis of CHAMP started from the concept of inter-stage home monitoring for infants with single ventricles care in the first year of life. CHAMP infants are at risk of sudden events, including death, at home in the first months of life, so this technology is on the forefront of care improvement. This program uses an application on a mobile device at home to transfer data to the inter-stage cardiac team in the hospital, leveraging cloud-based technology.
NN: Why is technology like this so important to the future of patient care?
Lori: This model of care can be replicated for other disease states and improve care for high-risk patients, while allowing them to spend more time at home and less time in the hospital. This concept transformed a reactive nursing model of waiting for parent phone calls to a proactive model where we can see a change and intervene before a critical event occurs.
There are many other ambulatory models that may empower nurses to be proactive with care coordinators across the continuum of health. Megan Jensen, MSN, CPNP, an inpatient heart center APRN and Lori’s co-worker at Children’s Mercy, pointed out recently that CHAMP was a program that followed High Reliability Organization (HRO) principles. I would suggest any program that follows these principles to consider using technology to improve care.
NN: What are the biggest challenges you and the other nurses faced initially?
Lori: Amy Ricketts, RN-C, CHAMP® nurse coordinator, and myself were used to the traditional model of reporting via phone and documentation on a three-ring binder model before we had CHAMP. Being part of the development and growth of this mHealth (mobile health) technology has been amazing – we now have more time to take care of critical issues and less time is spent chasing down data.
Nursing has always had a seat at the table of program and process development with our heart center technology and administrative teams with CHAMP. As the frontline users, we have always been able to give feedback and voice any concerns or ideas. I have had great nurse mentors in my life that showed me how to look at the end goals and to make short- and long-term goals to make sustained change and process improvement.
NN: How have programs like this that incorporate the combination of technology and traditional nursing had effects on the way nurses practice?
Lori: Nursing informatics, including telehealth, is a growing area of nursing that has opportunities for exponential areas of care improvement. Technology shifts in the last 10 years like electronic medical record systems, online databases, cloud technology, and at-home remote monitoring have applications across all types of nursing and in all settings.
NN: What are some words of wisdom you would share with nursing students interested in getting involved with innovative patient care programs and technologies?
Lori: You are the experts in process improvement in your generation. Do not be afraid to speak up.
To learn more about the CHAMP program and how it’s changing the lives of families, visit childrensmercy.org.