Five Medical Innovations Created by Nurses

Happy National Nurses Week! In celebration of nurses everywhere, check out the following post:

Directly caring for patients isn’t the only way nurses help others. Several nurse-inventors have touched millions of lives with their groundbreaking ideas. Below, we’ve rounded up five inventions created by nurses throughout history.



Crash Cart
The crash cart is a familiar sight in intensive care units and emergency rooms around the world. These wheeled carts hold defibrillators, heart monitors, medications, intubation supplies, IV lines and other nursing supplies that can save the life of a patient. Crash carts are standard today, but they weren’t invented until 1968 when Anita Dorr built a wood prototype in her basement. She consulted with her staff to determine the supplies they might need in a crisis and laid them out logically on the cart. While today’s crash carts are a bit different (made from steel rather than wood for sanitary purposes), they’re still standard in hospitals all around the globe. Dorr’s contributions to the field didn’t stop there. She helped found the Emergency Nurses Association (ENA).


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Feeding Tubes for Paralyzed Vets
Another invention was inspired by WWII. Many veterans were paralyzed or became amputees during the war and had no way to feed themselves. That is, until Bessie Blount Griffin invented a tube that patients could operate with their teeth. Patients bit down on the tube, which would then deliver a mouthful of liquified food. Griffin demonstrated her product on the television show The Big Idea, becoming the first woman and first African-American to appear on the show. Griffin continued to innovate, refining her feeding tube concept and developing, among other things, a disposable cardboard emesis basin.

Color-Coded IV Lines
Medication errors both inside and outside hospitals are a major contributing factor to patient illnesses and deaths. Nurses may only have seconds to choose the right IV line from a tangle of clear plastic tubes to administer a medication properly in a crisis. Terri Barton-Salinas used to attach colored masking tape to differentiate IV lines, but the tape kept getting snagged on bed sheets. She decided there had to be a better way. She shared her idea of color-coded IV lines with her sister (and fellow nurse) Gail Barton-Hay over dinner one night in 2002. They reached out to a patent attorney about the concept and received a patent for the aptly-named ColorSafe IV lines the following year. They eventually partnered with a manufacturer to get the actual products made and are now working to get their color-coded IV lines into as many hospitals as possible.



Ostomy Bag
An ostomy is a surgical procedure that allows bodily waste to exit the body through a hole on the abdomen. There are several different types of ostomies, including a colostomy (not to be confused with a colonoscopy), a urostomy and an ileostomy. The first ostomy containers were prone to leaking and were not disposable. When Danish nurse Elise Sorensen took care of her sister after her colostomy in 1954, she realized the drawbacks of the current ostomy bags and set out to make her own. She created an ostomy bag that combined a disposable plastic pouch with secure skin adhesion that guarded against leaks. This is the same basic design that is still used for ostomy bags today.

Baby Bottles with Disposable Liners
Back in the 1940s, because plastic and glass bottles didn’t change shape as babies suckled them, a partial vacuum occurred, leading to babies ingesting more air. Adda May Allen invented a disposable, flexible plastic liner that would close in as the baby drank the milk, reducing the excess air. Playtex now mass-manufactures such bottles.

These five ideas reiterate nurses’ steadfast dedication to improving patient care. As we celebrate this week, give thanks to those tireless individuals proudly wearing their scrubs. Happy National Nurses Week! Who knows what innovations nurses will create in the next few years.


Created in coordination with 
Deborah Swanson, Content Coordinator,


Six Healthcare IT Analyst Resumé Tips for Success

In the healthcare IT consulting world, your resumé is the first impression for recruiters or hiring managers. Since hiring firms and health systems look at piles of resumés each day, the first impression is vital. To stand out, check out six tips for healthcare IT analyst resumés.

  1. Put your certifications first. Don’t bury them by putting them after your work experience or with your education information at the end of the document. This is especially important when verified vendor certification is a specific employment requirement.
  2. Highlight the skills most relevant to the position you are applying for within the professional summary. Customize this section each time you submit your resumé for consideration. Focus on your skills, qualifications and past achievements in similar positions. This section also gives you an opportunity to bring any relevant experience that may be buried further down (and possibly missed) in your resumé to the front page. For example, perhaps you are Epic certified in multiple modules and are applying for an Epic Grand Central analyst position. With certifications in Cadence and Prelude, as well as Grand Central, your last engagement was as an Epic Cadence analyst. Use your professional summary to highlight the Grand Central experience, so the recruiter (or hiring manager) does not need to get halfway through the second page before they see the applicable information.
  3. Stay consistent with formatting and verb tense throughout past roles details. While it is okay to use the present tense for bulleted statements under your current employer and then switch to past tense for the rest, that is the only time there should be a difference. Also, it is up to you to end bullet statements with a period or not. Whatever you decide, stick with it throughout the document. Consistency conveys an overall cohesive document to positively reflect your contributions.
  4. Start your support statements with action. The most effective bullet statements start with a verb– managed, designed or built. Avoid the phrase “responsible for” and get straight to the action. Instead of “Responsible for collecting, analyzing and documenting business operations and workflows,” try, “Collected, analyzed and documented business operations and workflows.”
  5. Check spelling with each resumé version change. Be especially attentive to the acronym “EHR,” since Microsoft Word automatically changes it into “HER.” Double check the spelling of various applications and programs you work with, since Word’s dictionary may not have those saved. When you run a spell check and the program stops on an unknown word, take the time to look it over.
  6. Capitalize the first word in a sentence or proper nouns. Avoid using capitalization for anything else. Don’t be fooled by job titles or department names, like project manager, business analyst, director or operating room. Generally, these are not considered proper nouns. Keeping capital letters to a minimum to ease readability. Notice how much more difficult it is to read the first version compared to the second in the example below:
  • Met with Process Owners, Directors, Department Administrator and Access Managers to prep their facility for implementation and Go-Live
  • Met with process owners, directors, department administrators and access managers to prep their facility for implementation and go-live

Apply these six tips and avoid fluff that falsely plumps up resumés. Doing so saves recruiters and hiring managers time, while increasing the likelihood of interviews and potential placement.

Stay tuned for additional HIT consulting tips, and check out Stoltenberg’s current job openings.

3 Overlooked Legacy System Management Areas of Risk

As a hospital or health system’s technology evolves in the transition to value-based care, legacy EHR systems are often overlooked, leaving organizations vulnerable to security, workflow and interoperability challenges. Today, let’s address how to handle three areas of risk for managing legacy systems.

  1. Network infrastructure initiatives

For any major network infrastructure changes, like a core switch replacement, the legacy team should work hand-in-hand with the infrastructure team to strategically plan out project scope and proactive mitigation steps for potential outages. Ensure that departments dependent on your legacy systems have appropriate downtime procedures, as operations identifies a nursing unit and clinical department priority list for bringing the systems online. The legacy team should coordinate with clinical operations to help the communication department develop a communications plan to deploy at scheduled intervals notifying operational users of an outage event. During an outage window, legacy analysts should complete system validation tasks prior to end-user release, ensuring that all applications are fully functional within each clinical area as they come online.

  1. System or application upgrades

Coordinating with IS and system vendors, mitigate risk during system upgrades by identifying impacted systems or applications along with the date, time and duration of upgrade activities. Determine areas and workflow affected and their level of impact. During an upgrade event, legacy analysts must monitor their upgrade plan to ensure tasks are completed as scheduled, while communicating any deviations. Working with clinical users, they can identify if any workarounds are necessary to support operational workflow during upgrade activities.

  1. Data identification, usage, validation and extraction

To ease data conversion, a legacy systems analyst should work with the conversion team and new vendor analysts to identify data requirements, file transfer locations, naming convention and resources needed to support the project. The legacy team can then utilize a data sampling for validation, while confirming the requested file delivery schedule. Working closely with the conversion team, legacy analysts can thoroughly review sample data that is converted against the source legacy system for accuracy. The conversion and legacy teams should meet regularly, maintaining thorough communication. This will eliminate task redundancy, data accuracy and smooth transition as the organization prepares for the new system.

Network infrastructure, system upgrades and data identification and extraction are three risk areas often forgotten amidst the many moving pieces of a new system transition. By following these tips with strong communication, detailed documentation and proactive strategy, legacy system teams can ease impact on end-users without thwarting daily patient care.



Do’s and Don’ts for Common Health IT Interview Questions

Regardless of your specific HIT software or application specialty, the questions interviewers ask and the topics they touch on are often similar across the industry. The following three interview conversation tips are useful for any health IT systems consultant, whether you work with Epic, Cerner, Allscripts or another major EHR vendor.

  1. Implementation deadlines

Don’t: Bring up blown deadlines and blame them on user resistance.

Example: “There were some issues in the build phase, and the implementation took longer than expected because of physician push-back.”

Do: Highlight the methods you used to help user buy-in for the system changes. Discuss your communication skills, specific contributions to past projects and how your work impacted overall project success or end-user adoption. Clients want to hear how well you perform under challenging conditions, not excuses for failures.

Example: “There was some pushback at first, but I was able to show users how the new product would make their lives easier. I did this by talking directly with end users to understand their concerns, educating them on how the new product works and how it will improve their workflow. Once they realized it wasn’t just change for the sake of change, we could push through the typical resistance and complete the implementation on time.”


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  1. Past challenges

Don’t: Throw your previous client or consulting firm under the bus when asked about past challenges.

Example: “The last project I worked on was with a hospital that had a lot of issues. They were disorganized, their processes were confusing and the whole thing was a mess.”

Do: Focus on how you overcame the challenge instead.

Example: “When I first arrived, lines of communication were not optimal, and it was hurting the ability to accomplish project goals. I made sure everyone was on the same page by acting as liaison for my team. I worked with other departments to ensure responsibilities and timelines were clearly mutually defined. This pushed analysts in other departments to talk to each other about their needs and issues. That way, we could make sure everyone on the team, organization-wide, worked cohesively.”

  1. Rating your team performance 

Don’t: Tell the interviewer how much better or harder you worked compared to other analysts. This can make you seem like you’re not a team player.

Example: “There were six of us on the team, but I was the one who the client liked best and the only one who had a contract extension. I did almost all the job myself because the other analysts were inexperienced and didn’t know what they were doing.”

Do: Focus on describing how your work contributed to positive outcomes for the team. If you found yourself taking on extra work, say it in a way that doesn’t put the rest of the team down.

Example: “There were six of us working together on my last implementation, and I put in extra time to mentor less-experienced members of the team and ensure their work was of the best quality. When we ran into snags, I had no problem stepping up to help resolve the problem, so the implementation could be a success.”

By approaching these three topics from a positive angle, you can greatly increase your chances of interview success, showing that you are an experienced team player. Stay tuned for additional HIT career insight from the HITStoltenblog, and email us at for any new topic requests.

-Melanie Streeter, Health IT Systems Recruiter



Data Abstraction & Conversion Best Practices for New Epic System Go Live (Part II)

In the first post of this two-part series, we discussed legacy system cleanup, new system data entry and pre-load best practices as your healthcare organization prepares for its new Epic EHR system. Let’s discuss three additional tips for data abstraction and conversion work for your strategic EHR transition.

  1. Staffing aid
    As discussed in the last post, it can take some time to load your scheduled patients into Epic prior to go live. The process of reviewing the patient in the legacy system and entering/reviewing the data in Epic is tedious work. However, it is a great learning opportunity for clinical staff, who should start practicing the process as soon as possible. Many organizations need to supplement staff to accommodate the number of scheduled patients for the first 2-3 weeks after go live. Some organizations utilize residents or retired staff for this work. Many others use HIT consulting firms to cost-effectively supplement the labor. If your organization uses a third-party firm, make sure their resources have direct experience with this critical assignment. Not only will the resources need to know Epic, but they will also need to know the legacy systems, depending on how many different source systems the patient data will be coming from.
  2. CCD load
    If possible, utilize a Continuity of Care Document (CCD) load from the legacy system. A CCD is an electronic document exchange standard for sharing patient summary information. This format of data can be extracted from the legacy system and loaded via HL7 into Epic once the demographic data is loaded into Epic for each patient. Users will see the data and have the chance to reconcile this data and add it to the Epic patient chart. This significantly reduces data entry time into Epic. Each scheduled patient will still need to be reviewed and verified against the legacy system for accuracy.
  3. Data audit
    With the patient data transition complete, it is critical to audit data that has been entered into Epic. A common best practice is to have providers select 10% to double check for data accuracy. The data audit is a learning opportunity for clinical staff to learn the system prior to go live and that critical first patient visit.

With the big day for Epic go live approaching, you can now rest assured that those first scheduled patients have matched critical data ready and waiting for new system use. With these best practices in place, end users will feel more comfortable and prepared for their clinical care visits. Within a few weeks, as staff have developed muscle memory of the new Epic system, they can reap the benefits of a unified IT landscape across the continuum of care.


Data Abstraction & Conversion Best Practices for New Epic System Go Live (Part I)

The EHR market is set to grow to $39.7 billion by 2022. As patients and providers alike push for better access to data for informed care management and decision-making, healthcare organizations are making significant investments in their EHR systems for cohesive care coordination in the transition to value-based care.

If you are like many leading health IT professionals today, your organization has made a multi-million-dollar purchase of a new Epic EHR system. Now what? After months, and possibly years, of planning for your new Epic system, one of the biggest issues for IT end users has been the first Epic ambulatory visit with patients. Why? As with anything new, the system is a major change for your providers and staff. It will take time for them to learn the new system functionality and develop muscle memory to navigate through seamlessly.

One of the most important things you can do to improve the go-live process is to make sure key patient data is entered prior to both the go live and the first patient visit. Minimum key data points on each patient should include schedule visits, allergies, active medications, active problem list, immunizations and preferred pharmacy.

How can you smooth the new system adoption process?

In part I of this two-part blog series, consider the following three takeaways for EHR system data abstraction and conversion:

  1. Legacy system data cleanup
    12 months before your Epic go live, begin cleaning up the key data in your legacy system. Why so early? Many patients only visit their doctors once a year. By beginning the cleanup processes one year prior, you will have plenty of time to make sure the most accurate information is transferred into your new system. This is especially pertinent for the problem lists and medications. Doing so greatly speeds up data load into the new system and ensures with each subsequent visit that providers are addressing the active patient problems. Keep in mind though that if you have data in your legacy system that is no longer valid, this is your opportunity to start fresh.
  2. New Epic system patient data entry
    How much time does it take to enter the data into the new system? Depending on the complexity of your patient population, it can take anywhere from 5-10 minutes per patient to enter and validate a patient’s data into Epic for the first time. Remember, this is a new skill for your staff to learn, so it will likely take them longer at first to enter data as they learn the new system.
  3. Data pre-loading best practice
    How soon do I begin entering this data into Epic? The best practice is to pre-load your first 2-3 weeks of scheduled patients into Epic prior to go live. This allows your staff to have the patient data ready during the first few weeks of actual new system use. It also reduces stress on your staff, allowing them time to learn and adapt to the new system. Depending on the number of active patients and scheduled appointments, multiply the average of 5-10 minutes for best and worst-case proactive planning of time needed for data entry prior to the go-live date.

Check back for part II covering data conversion staffing solutions, CCD load and auditing.

12 Times Nurses Made a Difference in Disaster Relief

In celebration of National Nurses Week, check out the following guest blog:

Throughout history, countless stories endure of nurses rushing to the frontline for those in need. To honor the vital role nurse play in healthcare, the U.S. celebrates National Nurses Week each year May 6-12. From founding the American Red Cross to recent natural disaster relief response, dedicated nurses shed their scrubs to serve others in any setting. Today, let’s highlight 12 times nurses made a difference with hurricane and earthquake relief.

Nurses Serve After Hurricane Maria


Regarded as the worst natural disaster on record in Puerto Rico and Dominica, Hurricane Maria took the lives of 550 people and caused an estimated $103 billion in damage. The September cyclone left 80,000 Puerto Ricans without power or medical supplies, leaving medical relief largely to foreign aid organizations.

  • They Begged for More Aid — The nation’s largest nurses’ union, National Nurses United, sent more than 50 nurses to Puerto Rico and Dominica in the days following the hurricane as part of the organization’s Registered Nurse Response Network. The nurses returned home and shared shocking conditions with the media, urging the federal government to send more relief.
  • They Set Up Urgent Care Centers — Haiti is no stranger to natural disaster, so naturally, Heart to Heart International’s Haitian Response Team jumped into action after the devastating hurricane. A team of 10 Haitian doctors and nurses brought medical and humanitarian aid in the form of a makeshift urgent care center. They were some of the only humanitarian responders to provide care in rural Puerto Rico.
  • They Helped the Elderly — According to CNN, after the hurricane, a team of nurses helped deter an elderly woman’s suicide by alerting the mayor of the situation. They also assisted a woman trapped inside an assisted living facility, who had not eaten in three days.
  • They Transported Patients to the Mainland — According to nurse Camrai Damore and respiratory therapist Mark Puknaitis — two Chicago area Maria responders —nurses aided the sick and injured by transferring those with serious medical conditions to the mainland for better quality care.
  • They Visited the Sick at Home — One of the most devastating effects of Hurricane Maria was the total crumble of the infrastructure of many cities. As a result, nurses made in-home visits to suffering Puerto Ricans who were unable to leave their homes. They also helped to set up temporary shelters that were more accessible than hospitals and clinics.

Healing After Harvey

Back in the continental U.S., the country was recovering from another natural disaster. In August, Hurricane Harvey became the first major hurricane to make landfall in the U.S. since 2005. It inflicted nearly $200 billion in damage and displaced more than 30,000 people in the process, primarily in the Houston metropolitan area. It didn’t take long after the storm settled for nurses to come to the rescue from all over the country.


  • They Responded by the Hundreds — Within four days following Harvey, more
    than 300 nurses made their way to Houston to provide essential medical relief to
    the masses, stethoscopes and all. The group of nurses had a broad range of specializations, including NICU, OR and ER nursing.
  • They Brought Supplies — That massive wave of 300 nurses didn’t head to Houston empty-handed. Instead, they brought generators, linens, water tanks, food and medicine. This was especially important due to the fact that Houstonians were forced to completely evacuate several hospitals, but still needed to be prepared for a massive response. Supplies allowed them to administer care just about anywhere.
  • They Covered Shifts — According to reports, a large volume of Houston medical professionals were left homeless due to water damage. Nurses from other parts of the state and the country flocked to Houston to help cover shifts of medical professionals who were forced to deal with personal fallout from the storm.
  • They Helped Clean Up — Days after the storm, medical professionals were forced to return to work, where much had been destroyed due to moisture, mildew and mold. Many nurses who flocked to the region after the hurricane spent their evening hours cleaning up debris and handing out supplies.

Administering Urgent Care to Earthquake Victims

Just weeks after Hurricane Harvey rocked the nation, central Mexico was hit with a 7.1-magnitude earthquake that left 370 people dead and more than 6,000 injured in and around Mexico City. The strong shakes lasted for about 20 seconds, collapsing more than 40 buildings in the process.


  • They Jumped to Action Immediately — According to the Red Cross, some 500 volunteers — many of them nurses — jumped to action in the hours immediately following the disaster. The Mexican Red Cross deployed more than 90 ambulances and several hundred paramedics, who provided life-saving aid within hours.
  • They Cared for Kids and Babies — Among the collapsed and damaged buildings were a series of schools, many of which had children inside. One of the greatest challenges for responders to the Mexican quake was figuring out how to care for the many injured children. Makeshift hospitals were set up, and nurses jumped into action to provide care.
  • They Delivered Babies — In one inspiring tale from the quake, nurses delivered a healthy baby in the middle of the quake in one of the worst affected neighborhoods. While the rest of the hospital evacuated, nurses ushered Jessica Mendoza to a safe place, so she could give birth to a healthy baby boy.

These heartwarming tales are just a glimmer of the heroic work nurses conduct each day. Keep these stories in mind this week as you thank the nurses around you.

Created in coordination with
Deborah Swanson, Content Coordinator,