Nurses Play a Leadership Role at Zebra, Even If They Don’t Realize It

Zebra’s healthcare solution strategists reflect on the influence that nurses have on their product design and business decisions.

Two nurses talk in a hospital hallway
by Rikki Jennings
May 12, 2022

I’m always excited to see the theme for International Nurses Day because, as a nurse myself, I can usually relate to the issues being elevated. This year, though, the theme – “A Voice to Lead” – hits especially close to home. 

In my day job as Zebra’s Chief Nursing Informatics Officer (CNIO), I’m responsible for representing the voice of the clinician. That means I must understand and advocate for clinician needs as we define Zebra’s healthcare portfolio roadmap, conduct research, and design market-ready solutions. But one thing I’ve come to understand best in this role is that the “voice of the clinician” is the voice often echoing the loudest inside everyone else’s heads, too. I’m not the only one advocating for the needs of nurses as many of my collogues are using their voices to drive nurse-centric changes to our products as well.

Our Chief Technology Office (CTO), engineering, sales, and services teams are all turning to clinicians (outside Zebra, on the front lines) to tell them what to put at the top of their priority lists. In fact, they spend extensive time on the ground, in hospitals and clinics, talking to nurses about what’s working well and what could be working better. Even our broader business strategists – those advising our top executives – are constantly referring to the input we’ve received from nurses in the past when deciding how Zebra should move forward from an innovation and investment perspective.  

Why? 

That’s exactly what I asked them to share with you:

“While all front-line workers work hard, I don’t think anything can compare to the pressures that healthcare staff, especially nurses, have been under recently. Our solutions need to help them save time, make their roles easier and help the entire facility stay in sync. I think about how the right device, with the right collaboration software could let them focus on their patients, not on managing their paperwork and devices.”

~ Chip Yager, Vice President, Corporate Strategy, Zebra

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“As leaders at creating devices, software, and services to empower workers by enabling the connectivity, visibility and optimization of everyone and everything, we at Zebra have always prided ourselves at sitting in our users’ shoes, to understand their workflows, pain points, and unmet needs.  

Healthcare is no different.  We are very fortunate to have great relationships with our healthcare partners, as well as our direct healthcare providers, and, thus, we frequently are able to receive direct feedback with clinicians about our current products and solutions, our roadmap, as well as new workflow requirements.  

For example, we have been very lucky to receive feedback that has driven us to improve our mobile voice and data experiences, audio performance, and even disinfectant cleaning processes. We have added new capabilities to our products, such as enabling our handhelds to turn into mobile-driven workstations, providing clinicians a true desktop workstation experience, enabling heavier data entry, navigating applications, and viewing content on a big screen. We also have learned about the impact of the weight of our mobile computers, the need for hands-free capabilities, as well as new multi-modal audio use cases – all of which has greatly aided in creating our current and next generation devices.  

Clinicians need to ensure that the right patient receives the right care at the right time.  Zebra can make our clinicians’ lives easier by connecting them to the patient data, other clinicians and providers as needed in real time.  Our goal is to create a simpler yet more responsive experience for patients and thus create a more successful work environment for clinicians.” 

~ Julie Johnson, Vice President and General Manager, Mobile Computing, Zebra

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"Our mission at Zebra is to help strengthen the quality of nurse-patient interactions and to help nurses spend more direct time with their patients at the point of care. To fulfill this important mission, we have worked tirelessly with the nursing community to both listen and to understand their specific areas of critical need. We also have invested millions of dollars to create technology products purposefully designed for healthcare to help address their most critical needs. While it is heartwarming to think about how our technologies are helping make a difference in patient care quality worldwide, it is also sobering to realize that so many workflow burdens and technology gaps for nurses remain. 

Each of us within our communities has an opportunity daily to support the nurses who care for our families. At Zebra, as we look to the future, our commitment remains the same: paying close attention to the voice of the front-line nurses and working hard to help them perform their jobs to the best of their abilities.”  

 ~ Chris Sullivan, Global Healthcare Practice Lead

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As you can see, nurses’ concerns and requests are not falling on deaf ears. They will always have an audience with a Zebra. So, if you’re a nurse (or other clinician) who wants to advocate for change within your organization or the healthcare community at large, give us a call. We want to hear from you. 

More importantly, we want your voice to be heard by others – by those in a position to enact change…to make things better for you and your patients…to make your jobs easier so you have more energy to be there for others. We have the resources and expertise to unburden the delivery of patient care, but only you know where the biggest pain points lie. Help us help you by leading our teams (and other healthcare decision-makers) in the right direction. And know we’re forever in your debt. I believe my colleague Xavier Villarreal, Vice President, North American Healthcare and Government, speaks on behalf of Zebra Nation when he says...

“I would like to thank all nurses for the sacrifices they make daily and want them all to know that their selfless journey is greatly appreciated! Having the opportunity to place technology in the hands of nurses comes with a responsibility to ensure that it helps treat patients more effectively, and one that I am truly thankful for. My gratitude goes out to the most special people on the planet!”

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Rikki Jennings
Rikki Jennings, BSN, RN, CPN is currently the Chief Nursing Informatics Officer (CNIO) at Zebra Technologies where she is responsible for combining her knowledge of patient care, informatics concepts, and change management to effectively address the information and knowledge needs of healthcare professionals and patients to promote safe, effective, and efficient use of IT in clinical settings. She also serves as the strategic liaison for health IT efforts representing nursing and clinician needs.