Cambridge nurse scoops academic study grant to develop app for intensive care patients

Communications solutions supported by grant from Health Education East of England

Petra Polgarova introduces MyICU Voice

A research nurse from Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust has won a prestigious study grant to improve the care of patients on intensive care units by developing an app to help them communicate.

"Patients who canít speak because they are critically ill now have a voice, which is fantastic,Ē she said.

Petra Polgarova is one of only eight successful applicants to receive an award under the clinical academic internship programme, which is worth £5,000 and is run by Health Education East of England.

Communication has been demonstrated as the most-important factor influencing satisfaction among intensive care patients. In the UK 120,000 patients were admitted to intensive care units in 2012-2013, of whom 55,000 required breathing support within the first 24 hours. Not all of these patients would have been in a clinical condition that permitted them to communicate.

Polgarova, who joined the trust in 2009, will be further developing the work of a pilot study, which involved a small number of patients using the MyICUVoice app to communicate with clinical staff.

Using the app, on a specially-adapted tablet, means critically-ill patients are able to ask questions about their treatment, which before now was impossible. Patients can choose from a variety of animated emoticons to help identify their mood.

Itís really dynamic. Patients who canít speak because they are critically ill now have a voice, which is fantastic

Polgarova, who recently completed a MSc in Advanced Practice, said: ďIím really excited about it. Itís such a competitive programme to get into, so I feel very lucky.

ďI value the interaction with the patients and hopefully in the future I will be able improve the way patients communicate using the MyICUVoice app. Itís really dynamic. Patients who canít speak because they are critically ill now have a voice, which is fantastic.Ē

For her MSc, she investigated the perception of nurses regarding the assessment of pain in sedated or unconscious critically-ill patients. As a direct result of her MSc, the ICU has altered the methodology it uses to assess pain on their patients.

Polgarova said: ďThis opportunity is a great starting point for my clinical academic career addressing the key issue of communication for ICU patients.Ē

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