Christiana Care wins honors for virtual reality technology that helps patients get through chemotherapy

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Christiana Care Health System won the 2018 Magnet Prize from the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) for using virtual reality technology to improve patients’ experience during chemotherapy at Christiana Care’s Helen F. Graham Cancer Center & Research Institute near Newark.

The ANCC, which promotes excellence in nursing and healthcare globally, awards this prize to Magnet-recognized organizations with unique programs where nurse-led innovative action transforms care delivery practices, a release stated.

Christiana Care caregivers use virtual reality as a way for patients to immerse themselves in places outside the cancer center, whether those places are beaches, forests or popular destinations. The goal is to decrease the anxiety that comes with receiving chemotherapy.

“This high-tech, positive distraction improves patients’ experience and gives our exceptional nurses an opportunity to demonstrate our system’s value of serving together with love,” said Ric Cuming, Christiana Care’s chief nurse executive. “We are thankful and humbled to receive the ANCC Magnet Prize in recognition of our efforts to improve patient care and outcomes.”

Graham Cancer Center nurses partnered with Christiana Care’s Health Technology & Innovation Center and Volunteer Services to bring the technology to patients. The idea was the brainchild of Susan Coffey Zern, M.D., director ofChristiana Care’s Virtual Education and Simulation Training Center.

A pilot study on the Virtual Reality program shows that the feedback from patients was overwhelmingly positive. All of the participants said they enjoyed the experience and would do it again – 98 percent said it was relaxing, and 64 percent said it reduced anxiety and boredom.

Beyond the usual amenities offered in any doctor’s office, Waddington found that some chemotherapy patients who visited the Graham Cancer Center Infusion Suite were asking for more creative ways to pass the time — hours for some — while tethered to their IV lines. The Innovation Center team surveyed the marketplace to equipment and then customized the software to make it easy to use for patients and volunteers.

“This is a great example of leveraging technology to make stronger human connections,” said Innovation Center Director Catherine Burch, MSM, CXA. “We loved hearing the memories from patients that the virtual world brought back for them from childhood to favorite vacations.”

The Magnet Recognition Program recognizes healthcare organizations for quality patient care, nursing excellence and innovations in professional nursing practice. Consumers rely on the Magnet designation as the ultimate credential for high-quality nursing, the release stated.

Christiana Care includes a network of outpatient services, home health care, medical aid units, two hospitals, a Level I trauma center and a Level III neonatal intensive care unit, comprehensive stroke center and regional centers of excellence in cardiology, cancer and women’s health.

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