For her idea to use a virtual assistant to remind patients to take their medications, exercise and perform other tasks to keep them healthy, Denise Woods, PT, COS-C, a clinical manager in the Visiting Nurse Association, earned top honors in Christiana Care’s 2018 Innovation Challenge.

The Innovation Challenge is a biennial event that asks Christiana Care caregivers to submit their ideas for new apps or technology that will help us better care for our patients, improve communication and address today’s health care challenges and tomorrow’s opportunities.

Woods was one of four finalists in the competition, held Sept. 27 at the Health & Technology Innovation Center in the Gateway Building at Wilmington Hospital. Her idea, “The Future of Home Healthcare with Alexa,” will be developed by the Innovation Center team. Christiana Care is already well under way in developing Alexa skills.

In all, 77 ideas were submitted in the second annual contest, reflecting the health system’s status as a leader in harnessing technology to provide value, safety and high-quality care.

“Technology plays a vital role in the rapidly changing world of health care,” said Janice E. Nevin, M.D., MPH, CEO and president, who addressed competitors, judges, Innovation Center staffers, and supporters via video feed.

At the challenge, each participant made a 15-minute pitch to a panel of judges. In addition to Woods, there were three other finalists:

  • Linda Brittingham, ACM, BCD, CCM, LCSW, corporate director of Social Work, presented an idea for an app that would augment the Greater Wilmington Community Partnership Map, which provides contact information and locations of social service resources that can help underserved people get the help they need and avoid preventable trips to the Emergency Department. Christiana Care currently makes printed maps available in the community.
  • Amanda Baez, BSN, RN, advocated for an app that would allow nurses to document patient education in real time at the bedside, eliminating the cumbersome process of documentation using desktop computers.
  • Terry Steinberg, M.D., MBA, chief medical information officer, pitched a ‘My Health Risk’ consumer app, which would give patients and their providers ready access to all the electronic medical records available for the patient. “We take the data that is on multiple patient portals and put it all on one,” she said.
From left, Denise Woods, MS, PT; Linda Brittingham, ACM, BCD, CCM, LCSW; Terri Steinberg, M.D., MBA; and Amanda Baez, BSN, RN-BC.

Woods said the Alexa skill could dramatically reduce the 30-percent rehospitalization rate among home health care patients. She was inspired by a patient with mild dementia who wound up in the ED because she forgot to take her medication.

“Alexa can remind her to take meds, check her glucose and do leg lifts,” she said. “Alexa will remind her that her nurse is visiting. If she needs to call, Alexa gives her the number.”

Photo gallery: 2018 Innovation Challenge