Michael is an entrepreneur and a Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing student in his last semester at the University of Washington School of Nursing. He has over five years of experience as a family caregiver, Certified Nursing Assistant, and Nurse Tech working in memory care, long term care, and special education. His passion in nursing centers around healthcare technology, dementia care, palliative, and hospice care – especially where they all meet together.
The Winning Idea
Michael’s winning idea for the Queen Silvia Nursing Award 2022 is the QRx: a patient-centered medical record system built from the ground up to be easy to use and accessible. Its design is centered around accessibility and ease of use for all types of people, as well as care coordination/transition management. QRx would utilize scannable QR codes in a healthcare setting to enable patient identification, authorization, and care coordination via sharing of information.
Electronic Health Records (EHR), or Electronic Medical Records (EMR) are overarching terms for medical documentation systems that store information in secure databases. When a patient enters a medical setting, their providers document all care interactions using their organizations EMR/EHR. In the U.S., there are several large and small organizations that provide EMR/EHR solutions. Most EMR/EHR systems compete; as a result, they aren’t designed to don’t work together or allow patients or care teams from competing organizations to access patient data. As a result, it can be very difficult for patients and healthcare teams in the US to access information stored in a competing system – even if both systems are treating the same patient.
A good example would be X-Ray’s or Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scans. If a patient receives an x-ray or does an MRI scan at a hospital or clinic that uses one EMR, doctors at another hospital using a competing EMR can’t access it. At this point, patients are often forced to repeat tests or procedures like X-Rays and MRIs at the hospital that couldn’t access the information. Not only can these be uncomfortable and even painful for patients, the process of repeating diagnostic procedures between hospitals means that they pay twice for the same procedure.
Michael hopes to fix this problem with his solution: QRx. QRx empowers patients to take ownership of their healthcare information, and present it to any caregiver, family member, provider, or nurse they see in their healthcare journey. Since QRx is patient-centered and accessible on multiple devices, it can be used to scan and save healthcare information, then present it to whomever needs it. In the example above, patients could take pictures or download their X-Ray or MRI results at one organization, save it into QRx, and send it to their care team at another. Information is shared quickly, easily, and with no additional cost to the patient. QRx can do this because it is designed as a web application; anyone with a device and an internet connection can use it. QR codes make it easy for a care team, caregivers, or patients to scan, identify, and use the system.
QRx is especially useful for patients with complex care needs such as patients with dementia, as they tend to use and require healthcare from multiple parties. They have caregivers – family or otherwise – specialists, providers, nurses, and others in their care team managing their care. In the US, it’s not common for one patient to use one EMR system across this care continuum, which is why it’s important that a solution be created with accessibility and ease of use in mind. QRx aims to do just that.
What drew Michael to the field of nursing & creation of QRx?
Michael was the caregiver for his mother when she developed a brain tumor in her 60s. He attributes much of his desire to enter the nursing field to providing end-of-life and memory care for his mother. Later, as he gained more experience in nursing, he was inspired by the personalized patient-care they provide to patients. He discovered the enormous challenge of coordinating care in the current healthcare system. Shortly after a tumor was discovered inside her brain, the care team working with Michael’s mother decided they needed more information to see if it was cancer or not. They requested an MRI scan but ran into a problem: she had a pacemaker. Many people with pacemakers cannot get an MRI due to magnetic interaction from the magnets inside the machine. However, some pacemakers are safe for MRI scans, so her care team went searching for her medical records.
Unfortunately, they were met with endless barriers to accessing her healthcare information, despite it being vital information that she was entitled to. In the end, the care team was unable to find a record of the surgery that would describe what pacemaker she had and were forced to undergo an invasive brain surgery to sample and diagnose the tumor. For Michael, his mother, and her care team, it was easier for the healthcare system to make his mother undergo a new, high-risk procedure– brain surgery– than it was to obtain her own healthcare history data.
Michael knew there must be a better way to obtain and track healthcare data, and thus, solving this problem became his passion as a nursing student.
Michael was referred to the QNSA website by Dr. Tatiana Sadak, a Graduate Program Director and leader on many Dementia and Alzheimer’s related initiatives at the University of Washington School of Nursing. He related to Her Majesty’s journey as a caregiver to Her mother, as Michael too had been through a very similar experience. He appreciated the recognition Her Majesty has brought to the importance of providing good dementia care and appreciated the opportunities the Queen Silvia Award would provide, like networking with other winners and leaders in the nursing field. QRx is in early development, and currently in the customer research phase of LEAN process – a framework for building applications and starting a business.
Michael’s Advice for New Nurses
Michael believes that nurses center much of their professional lives putting patients first, and that can sometimes cause issues like compassion fatigue and burnout. In the process, they often forget to care for themselves. He believes that through intentional self-care, they can center themselves, prevent burnout, and compassion fatigue so that they can be ready to help others in need. For Michael, self-care means making time for hobbies, passions, and intentional rest. He enjoys playing video games, as they provide a therapeutic space for him to play and process his experiences as a nurse.