Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine
Department of Pediatrics
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Critical Care Innovation

The Lefkofsky Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) recognizes that the most important path to achieving better outcomes for children with complex medical needs lies in the development of novel diagnostic treatment approaches. The IGNITE PICU innovation program is forging partnerships that extend beyond the walls of the hospital to find innovative solutions to the care and efficiency in the treatment of critically ill children.

Outstanding medical expertise and sophisticated technology can often mean the difference between life and death when a child is faced with a critical illness or injury. Therefore, forward thinking approaches must contiunously be considered to achieve an increasingly higher level of care, greater efficiencies, waste reduction, and overall success in intensive care setting. IGNITE PICU hosts quarterly Think Tank events that bring together a diverse group of experts to address a broad range of topics such as generating creative solutions to enhance the hospital experience for patients and families, reducing preventable medical errors and complications, supporting greater clinical efficiency, improving coordination of care through teamwork and collaboration, and creating value with cost minimization. The program challenges participants to innovate ways to address these issues while encompassing the program’s culture. These events have been held in collaboration with MATTER and human-centered design firm, IDEO, which is also a partner of IGNITE.

Below are three examples of IGNITE’s PICU projects. Each project’s team is comprised of members of various disciplines. These multidisciplinary teams make it possible for IGNITE to draw knowledge from nonmedical thought leaders. This effort benefits patients and families because input that otherwise might not have been considered is brought to the table. Through IGNITE PICU Lurie Children’s is tapping into knowledge and creativity from the community to find fresh solutions for critically ill children. 

Case 1: The anxiety surronding leaving the bedside of a critically ill child was alleviated during a Think Tank event. The solution IGNITE was fortunate enough to find is a technology that allows families to teleconference via app during clinical rounds. This family connectivity app allows families to participate in the decision making process alongside their child’s medical team. This is one of IGNITE’s several ongoing initiatives.

Case 2: Another one of IGNITE’s initiatives includes a collaborative effort between PICU faculty/staff, and Feinberg Medical students to address hand hygiene. This is an initiative that promotes safe hand hygiene practices amongst clinical staff. The objective of this project is to positively impact the culture of clinicians by reinforcing handwashing before and after patient interaction, all the while reducing the rate of hospital acquired infections.  

Case 3: In addition to those initiatives, IGNITE also has an ongoing project that includes virtual reality. The objective of this project is to “bring the outside in”. The virtual reality experience is interactive and immersive, and allows patients to visit an infinite amount of scenes and/or settings from their hospital bed via innovative technology. The purpose of this intervention is to promote a temporal shift in the patient’s closed environment, encouraging improvement in mood and cognitive outlook. 

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