Health care team looking at tablet together

UW Nursing Scholar Selected For Prestigious Dementia Care Award

By: UW Dementia Palliative Education Network (DPEN) Team

UW School of Nursing student Michael Drake has been selected as the second U.S. recipient of the UW Queen Silvia Nursing Award for dementia care.  

Michael Drake, winner of the 2021 UW Queen Silvia Nursing Award

Drake’s winning idea is the development of QRx, a safe and secure mobile platform that patients can use to share important information to medical providers and/or caregivers via an individualized QR code — a barcode that can be scanned by a digital device.

“With QRx, patients can manage, coordinate and transition their care to whomever they like, wherever they are and whenever they need to do so,” said Drake. 

The idea for QRx came from Drake’s personal experience with the difficulties and perils resulting from patients not having control over their own health care information. 

When Michael’s mother, who had memory issues and developed a brain tumor, needed an MRI to assist in diagnosis, one thing stood in the way: a pacemaker. Some pacemakers are MRI-compatible; others are not. Which pacemaker his mother had was lost in a morass of inaccessible records spread among multiple providers. 

“All we needed to do was find out what type of pacemaker my mother had. The tumor robbed my mother of her memory and her words, and I didn’t know. What we needed was an accessible record or history of the surgery — regardless of where it was done or what electronic health record system the hospital used — to give us the answer. Unfortunately, my mother’s care team couldn’t find the information we needed.” 

“Countless hours were spent repeating the same information to different providers because there was no framework or system that stored or connected her information,” he said. “QRx is designed to be a patient-centered health information service that will save time for both patients and providers.”

With the information inaccessible, Michael’s mother had to undergo a brain biopsy, a highly invasive procedure with considerable risk.

“I remember how my mother looked in the ICU after the surgery. How she stared at the wall with a pain she couldn’t express. And since that day, I have wondered why it was easier to perform a dangerous, expensive and potentially life-threatening craniotomy than it was to get my mother’s medical record.”

From that question came the idea for QRx.

“The Queen Silvia Nursing Award and the team at DPEN are helping me achieve my idea,” says Michael. “Since winning the award, I’ve spent time interviewing people who’ve been involved in the care of others. In one interview, a physician told me about the times they’ve had to delay care while waiting for other organizations to share the patient’s medical history. The physician spoke as if it were normal, as if this is the way things should be.”

“This innovative idea has tremendous promise for improving communication among all those caring for people with dementia. It holds the promise of reducing errors, miscommunication, delays and frustration by making information accessible and always current,” said Azita Emami, Executive Dean of the UW School of Nursing.

Drake, a second-year student in the Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) program at the UW School of Nursing, will receive an award of $6,500. He will also receive support and mentoring from the School of Nursing faculty to assist him in applying for additional funding to develop and implement his winning idea.

The QSNA was established by Swedish Care International in 2013 as a birthday gift for Her Majesty Queen Silvia in recognition of her long-term commitment and dedication to elderly care and the quality of nursing for people with dementia. The award fosters innovative ideas and solutions for people living with dementia and addresses COVID-19 challenges in health care environments.

The Alzheimer’s Association Washington State Chapter is proud to be a media sponsor for the University of Washington Queen Silvia Nursing Award. Learn more here.

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