INDUSTRY
September 18, 2018

Meet Three Nurses Influencing Healthcare Through Technology

Meet Three Nurses Influencing Healthcare Through Technology

By Portia Wofford 

Imagine every day being a struggle to make it to work. You change shifts. You change units. You even change jobs, yet the stress is unbearable, and you are burnt out. Now, think of all of your nursing skills. All of the years of learning how to coordinate care, perform different tasks, and communicate with physicians and family members. Do you realize that the very skills you use every day, as a nurse, are transferable? More nurses are starting to step away from the bedside and use their nursing experience and education to launch businesses. LPNs, RNs, and APRNs, alike, are making their skills bankable and changing lives. 

The Millennial Nurse - Portia Wofford

It has been a fantastic journey writing for nurse.org. So, I decided we should get to know one another. Many of you may know me by my Instagram handle, @lipstickandstethoscope. My bio reads, “Wofford, often coined The Millennial Nurse, is a nurse, strategist, published writer, and thought-leader.” It all looks good on paper and in the world of social media; however, let’s start from the beginning. 

Becoming a nurse was personal, even spiritual, for me. Spending weeks in an ICU, after a life-threatening and altering experience, and feeling the compassion the nurses held, led me on a greater journey. I knew I had to become a nurse. Being in the right place, at the right time to potentially change a life is what nursing means to me. I began my nursing career eight years ago as a licensed practical nurse, in geriatrics and long-term care. I was eager and anxious to learn. Yet, within a year I was burnt out. The nurse bullying, the long hours, the strain on my mental and physical health were too much, and I decided I needed a change. I took a job as a home health nurse and loved it. Throughout my career, I held positions in quality assurance, performance improvement, and coordination of care. The autonomy and opportunity to build on my skills was priceless.  Home health care was my leap pad into entrepreneurship. The skills that I learned as a home health nurse are invaluable. I learned to coordinate care, customer service, time management, critical thinking, how to create solutions to problems--all skills needed in the business world. 

Many of the patients, in the area I worked, lived below the poverty line. Some could not read nor write. Because of that barrier, the information I was teaching was difficult for them to retain. I decided to merge my two passions for nursing and writing. I began to utilize the resources the agency provided, as well as outside resources. I would place it in one collective, individualized packet, for each patient. My hard work paid off and eventually I was given a position in a pilot program the agency launched and was able to perfect my process. With my patients’ rehospitalization rates declining and my coworkers asking for my secret sauce, I knew I had stumbled upon the beginnings of a business. If other nurses had access to resources, they too could advance their careers and bridge that gap between health care and the communities they served. Your Nurse Connection was conceived. Your Nurse Connection offers healthcare professionals, particularly nurses, access to resources and tools for professional development--whether it is to land a promotion or to start a business. Additionally, we supply organizations with documentation support such as chart audits and documentation education to their nursing staff.

As a “millennial” nurse, I quickly realized millennials are often excluded from conversations. Although, we make up one-third of the nursing workforce and retention is a rising challenge for employers, we are often dismissed. I met too many Gen Y nurses deciding to leave the nursing world. I knew I had to place a pulse on the issues of millennial nurses. We deserved a seat at the table! I decided to offer organizations strategies to ensure they could be competitively placed to retain the top millennial nurses. I believe that if we save nurses, we will save healthcare! Furthermore, I offer millennial and post-millennial (Gen Z) professionals tools to navigate and transition through the workforce. I'm often asked to write or speak from a millennial’s viewpoint. This has rebirthed my passion for writing. It has been so refreshing and exciting to offer writing services to different platforms, individuals, and organizations. My advice to any nurse pursuing entrepreneurship or career advancement is simple: your network is your net worth. 

Connecting is kind of my thing:

The Nurse CEO - Lolita Korneagay, MBA, RN, ALNC 

Nurse Korneagay is a savvy business owner. I met Lolita in her Facebook group, Nurse CEOs, at a time when I was looking for guidance in my business. After only a short conversation, it was easy to decipher that Lolita is indeed THE Nurse CEO and an expert in assisting other nurses in making his or her entrepreneurial dreams come true.  

Korneagay began her career in healthcare as a pre-med student. With initial plans to become a brain surgeon, a conversation with her primary doctor opened Lolita’s eyes to the world of nursing. While in nursing school, she had to choose an elective. However, none of the electives that were available peaked her interest--so, in true boss fashion, she created her own. Her elective provided the opportunity to shadow a Chief Nursing Officer, at a hospital. This allowed her to experience the non-clinical side of nursing. She loved it! It was then that she decided she wanted her nursing career to be business-focused. While working as a clinical nurse specialist for a Fortune 500 company, Lolita was thrown into the business world and realized there was so much she did not know. With twelve years of experience under her belt as a registered nurse, Korneagay decided to pursue her MBA to advance her career as a nurse in business. 

Korneagay and Associates, founded in 2016, is a medical management firm that specializes in worker's compensation and legal nurse consulting. Lolita is also the founder of Nurse CEO. Nurse CEO is an international community of nurse entrepreneurs, nurse business owners, and nurse leaders. The organization provides nurses with easily accessible, low-cost education enabling them to accelerate their career and business development. Nurse CEO helps to bridge the gap for nurses who want to be successful in business while having a positive economic impact on their lives and communities. Realizing that the majority of conferences only offer nurses information and access to healthcare related businesses, Lolita decided to provide nurses with a series of summits-- a cross-nation tour, of sorts. This year's summit introduces its attendees to “tech hackers”--thought-leaders, experts, and influencers in businesses (outside of healthcare), particularly the tech industry.

Healthcare changes drastically with different technological developments and innovations. It is imperative for nurses to have a seat at that table. The healthcare technology industry is a booming industry that lowers costs and improves healthcare. Korneagay is ahead of the curve with her Tech Tour and is offering nurses the opportunity to go beyond the bedside. The Nurse CEO Success Summit: Tech Tour is for nurses who are entrepreneurs, aspiring entrepreneurs, or for those who are looking for career alternatives.

The interactive summits will feature speakers and business experts while providing attendees with resources, tools, and the network to launch or expand his or her own business. There will be a series of tech panelists -alongside an assortment of speakers giving inspiring TEDx styled talks- about how they managed a career in healthcare while also nurturing their entrepreneurial goals. The Success Summit held in Los Angeles, California on September 29th, will be followed by a second Success Summit in Atlanta, Georgia on November 17th. GRAB YOUR TICKETS!

Asked what her motivation was in starting several businesses Korneagay stated, “As a successful serial entrepreneur, I noticed there was minimal business information and resources geared towards nurses who desired to be entrepreneurs, business owners, or business leaders. I realized that the standard nursing education focused on health and wellness but lacked information about basic business and career principles.” She leaves aspiring nurse entrepreneurs with this nugget, “Just do it! Your nursing skills are transferable and will help you succeed at whatever you choose to do. Don't overthink about what you don't know and use the information that you already possess as a starting point. Don't be afraid to ask for help and invest in your future with classes and experiences.”

Want to connect with Lolita?

The Nurse Informatician - Dr. Tiffany Kelley Ph.D., MBA, RN

What is informatics? Dr. Tiffany Kelley Ph.D., MBA, RN defines it as “the use of data and information to generate new knowledge and wisdom in a specific discipline.” Dr. Kelley began her nursing career at the prestigious Georgetown University. After only a year of working as a pediatric registered nurse, she pursued travel nursing.  Kelley spent the next two years working as a travel nurse in San Diego and then Boston. After a few years, she found herself struggling with the inefficiencies nurses work with, daily. The desire to better support beside nurses led her to a Master’s in Nursing Administration and MBA at Northeastern University. During this time Kelley had transitioned into a role as a clinical analyst--working on an electronic health record implementation at Boston Children’s Hospital. This was her first entry into informatics. She enjoyed solving problems and understanding how to fit technology into the needs of clinical users. 

Kelley’s advisor encouraged her to apply for the Ph.D. program at Duke University. The program was looking for nurses who had an interest in health IT and its effects on the quality and safety of care delivery. Dr. Tiffany states, “following the electronic health record implementation that I worked on for many years, I heard nurses often say, ‘I feel like I don’t know my patient anymore.’ I also began to wonder if the electronic health record was really improving care quality and safety.” Dr. Kelley identified a significant problem that affected nurses who were working in direct patient care. She realized nurses were struggling to spend the time they wanted with their patients. Understanding that EHRs were expected to solve the problem of paper-based records, Dr. Kelley launched Nightingale Apps

Nightingale Apps is a mobile health technology company designed to provide digital solutions to nurses to support their care delivery needs. Nightingale Apps’ flagship product, Know My Patient, is a mobile enterprise solution designed to integrate with electronic health records. The patent-pending application aims to support nurses in direct care with the information they need to efficiently care for their patients--from shift report through the course of their workday. Simply put, Know My Patient is an organizational solution for nurses. Through her company’s tools, Dr. Kelley sees the opportunity to improve the “safety, efficiency, timeliness, and patient-centeredness of care.” 

Nurses practice the principles of informatics, daily. In 2015, Dr. Kelley launched iCare Nursing Solutions in response to requests for informatics expertise from various companies and individuals. iCare provides consulting and education services to businesses and individuals requiring informatics expertise. The consulting services address the gap that exists between clinical users and the technical environment; forming an actionable solution that can be maintained long term. 

Dr. Kelley’s advice for nurses interested in informatics or launching their own tech-based business? "If anyone has an interest in starting his or her own business in informatics and/or healthcare-related technology, I would first encourage him or her to understand the problem that is driving the interest. Additionally, understand what the solution should be for that problem. You are the intellectual property in a service-based industry and clients want to know that you are an expert. If you aren’t there yet, gain the experience you need to go off on your own. If considering a product-based business (e.g., software and/or hardware), be prepared for a multi-year effort to work toward your goal of introducing something new to the marketplace. I find many aspiring entrepreneurs (in and out of health are) are looking for something that will happen in a few months or a year. Yet, when you see the advancement of new innovations in health care, the trajectory is multi-year and, in some cases, multi-decades long. So, set appropriate expectations for yourself and your company.”

Contact Dr. Tiffany Kelley:

Nightingale Apps’ 

iCare Nursing Solutions

The skills you have acquired, as a nurse, are transferable. Your knowledge and expertise are valuable. Take what you already have and use it to make your dreams come true!

Next Up: 4 Nurse Practitioner Entrepreneurs Redefining Affordable Healthcare

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