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Phoenix Childrenís app helps RNs teach parents discharge care instructions

Monday November 19, 2012
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Thanks to a new health teaching app for mobile devices, nurses at Phoenix Childrenís Hospital are making it possible to start discharge planning before a child is even admitted to the hospital.

By the end of 2012, the free Journey Board mobile app, based on the innovative Journey Board teaching tool the PCH nurses created, will be available on Android and Apple.

"The app will be available to everyone with an iPad, iPhone or Android phone," said health education specialist Fran London, RN, MS. "Anyone will have the opportunity to access the app to see the questions a family will need to answer so they can take care of their sick child once they leave the hospital."

Fran London, RN
RN-created teaching tool

The nurses get the credit for creating the teaching tool, formally called "Itís Our Journey in the Hospital," and referred to at PCH as the Journey Board. MediaKube, a Phoenix company, is producing the app.

Funding for development of the app came via a $5,000 grant from the Patient and Family Alumni Leadership Council, an advocacy group of former PCH patients and families with a goal to give back to the hospital. This was the groupís first grant.

Nurses developed the health education tool, which resembles a colorful game board, about 10 years ago for diabetes patients. They use the board to help parents learn what they must know to care for their children after discharge, London said. "Itís been very effective with our diabetic patients because families feel comfortable that they can take care of their child once they leave the hospital," she said.

Now 20 Journey Boards exist, covering conditions such as tracheotomies and peritoneal dialysis. The free app will be a generic version that can apply to any child; a second app already is planned for families with a child who is newly diagnosed with cancer.

Step by step

The Journey Board is an evidence-based concept, London said, in which parents are required to teach back the essential information. As a family moves step by step along the board, they must teach back facts to the nurse, such as signs of a worsening condition, how to use medical equipment properly and when the child can return to school.

London said the advantage of families accessing the app when their child is admitted is that discharge teaching isnít left until the end of the hospital stay. The Journey Boards enable nurses to integrate patient education in nursing practice on every level.

"Every Journey Board has a guidebook for staff so they know the correct answers for every point, the resources for handouts or videos that can be used for teaching and teach-back question samples," London said. "It gives nurses exactly what to teach."

Using the tool appropriately enables staff to cover patient education that The Joint Commission expects for accreditation, she said.

"Families are thrilled when the point of the Journey Board is explained," London said. "It has prompted parents to take more responsibility for their childís care."

To download the app, visit www.android.com/apps/ or www.Apple.com.

Karen Schmidt, RN, is a freelance writer. Send letters to editorWest@nurse.com or post a comment below.