Clinics share best pandemic ideas on new crowdsourcing tool

Sanford Health taps talent of front-line staff for COVID-19 innovations

Clinics share best pandemic ideas on new crowdsourcing tool

Sanford Health clinics are using a new crowdsourcing tool to share new solutions developed for challenges created by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The health care organization’s enterprise business development team researched platforms to gather, evaluate and implement ideas to improve patient care. It recently implemented a pilot with Milwaukee-based Ideawake (, so the timing was perfect.

“When we were faced with COVID, there were so many new challenges and barriers and hurdles that our teams were facing. And those challenges were fairly universal,” said Jennifer Weiss, Sanford Health senior quality strategist.

“When you think about our organization, geographically approximately the size of Texas, the conversations and the needs in one state are very similar to the needs in another state. So what we loved about the Ideawake crowdsourcing platform is it allowed teams who found solutions or solved for a problem in one area to be able to share that, almost in real time, with a community in another area.”

Besides submitting ideas, Weiss would like clinic staff and other employees to look at all the ideas, vote on them and comment on them.

“That interaction makes and expands on the ideas that are submitted,” she said. “Who better to ask than the people doing the work?”

Reluctant visitors

Some of those staff submitted ideas on how to persuade high-risk patients not to ignore, cancel or postpone care for their chronic disease or other ailments because of concerns they might be exposed to the virus at a clinic.

Clinic director Stacy Jewett and registered nurse care manager Madonna Shelso at the 49th Street and Oxbow Avenue clinic in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, reviewed chronic disease registries and had nursing managers call each patient who was due for a treatment.

“Patients with underlying medical conditions are at a higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19. We want to ensure we’re helping them control their chronic disease to make sure they’re safe,” said Vanessa Taylor, Sanford Health’s medical home manager for the region that includes South Dakota, Iowa and southern Minnesota.

A Bismarck, North Dakota, clinic had a similar idea. The staff came up with scripts and talking points and then called patients to explain the importance of keeping up on care and all the precautions Sanford Health clinics were taking to ensure patient safety:

  • Having staff wear face masks and additional personal protective equipment when appropriate
  • Employee temperature screening
  • Screening all patients for COVID-19 symptoms
  • Asking patients to wear a face mask
  • Installation of Plexiglas and social distancing measures in waiting areas
  • Increased cleaning and disinfecting of patient rooms, procedure areas and waiting areas
  • Offering walk-up laboratory services and telemedicine visits if the patient doesn’t want to come to the clinic

People were initially afraid to visit, Taylor said. But once they heard about all of the precautions and the fact that none of the employees had been sick, they started returning, she said.

“The clinics have seen a definite uptick in patients coming back in. I think they were really receptive once they knew the extra steps that we were taking to ensure their safety,” Taylor said.

‘Super easy’

Taylor said she found Ideawake easy to use and loves the idea of collectively sharing best practices with other Sanford Health locations.

“If you don’t have to reinvent the wheel and someone else has something that will work well, let’s use it,” she said. “I was pleasantly surprised at how super easy it was to use. We’re all busy and don’t need something that’s cumbersome.”

Because it’s web-based, employees can safely and easily engage with it through their smartphone, tablet or any computer.

Weiss encouraged clinic staff to submit ideas to the challenge even if they aren’t fully developed.

“This is one solution for our front-line teams to being able to submit ideas or workflows to address the barriers they’re facing. And what’s wonderful is the barrier facing one community probably mirrors a barrier in another community,” she said.

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Posted In COVID-19, Innovations, News, Sioux Falls, Virtual Care