UT Nursing, Engineering Invention to Better Nurses World Wide

 

DocucareKNOXVILLE—A joint endeavor between the colleges of Nursing and Engineering at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, has developed a tool that will soon allow the international community to build a better workforce of health professionals.

Tami Wyatt and Matt Bell of the College of Nursing and Xueping Li and Yo Indranoi of the College of Engineering developed an educational software program that integrates electronic health records commonly used in hospitals and medical offices into a simulated learning tool for students. Now, the program has been purchased by Lippincott Williams & Wilkins (LWW), a leading international publisher for healthcare professionals and students. Called Lippincott’s DocuCare, the tool is currently being tested in 200 nursing programs and will be on the market in August.

“We are very excited about the promising enhancements to healthcare education this software has to offer,” said Wyatt. “Our initial research shows that Lippincott’s DocuCare helps improve the competencies of the nursing students in informatics, evidence-based practice and safety.”

“Lippincott’s DocuCare has the potential to broadly impact more than 3,000 nursing programs with about 400,000 students in the US alone,” said Li. “I am very proud of this achievement and excited that our UT home-grown academic software will soon be released around the world.”

Lippincott’s DocuCare puts nursing students into real world scenarios by supplying fictional “patients”— that come with fictitious medical histories created by the researchers in the form of electronic health records. The students’ exposure to these electronic health records is important because previously they were not allowed to work with them, but expected to know how to operate them upon graduation. The records are stored in a “computer on wheels” next to the mannequin. The computer also links to LWW’s textbook, references and eLearning materials to improve clinical knowledge.

“Before, students would be treating a patient and have to page through notes or textbooks to decide how to respond to a given situation,” said Wyatt, an associate professor in the College of Nursing. “With this software, they can easily find what they learned in the classroom or in their books and apply it hands on.”

The mannequins are supplied by Laerdal Medical, the top distributor of simulated mannequins for nursing education. They also include various patient scenarios. Nursing students will be able to record data about their patients directly into the Lippincott DocuCare electronic health record, allowing them to fully master the skills of patient record interpretation, patient care, and follow-up documentation. Instructors will be able to evaluate students on how well they perform and document their assessments.

The development of the tool, which began in 2007, has been a collaboration across campus. Law students offered legal advice for the startup company that marketed Lippincott DocuCare before it was purchased by LWW. Business students helped design a business plan. UT Research Foundation copyrighted the technology.

“This is just a great example of multidisciplinary collaboration on campus and how multidisciplinary research can make a difference,” said Li, an assistant professor in the Department of Industrial and Information Engineering. “I bet nine out of ten people would probably ask ‘how do engineers and nurses work together?’ Some challenging real-world problems do need efforts from people with different backgrounds.”

Wyatt supplied expertise in educational design for the DocuCare software and Li provided input to the structure and design of its functionality.

Wyatt and Li are co-directors of the Health Information Technology and Simulation Laboratory (HITS Lab), an organized research unit at UT. The overall goal of HITS Lab is to advance the science of health information technology and examine ways HITS enhances consumer health and professional health education.

To learn more about DocuCare, visit the LWW website.

LWW, part of Wolters Kluwer Health, and Laerdal formed a distribution alliance called “Learning for Saving Lives” to offer this product.

C O N T A C T :

Whitney Heins (865-974-5460, wheins@utk.edu)

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