Exemplary Professional Practice

Navigating IBD to help others
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Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) is a complex, chronic disease that greatly impacts a patient’s physical well-being and quality of life. However, when this disease is properly managed with routine medical care and daily self-care, patients will feel better, have a better quality of life and experience better medical outcomes. The IBD Nurse Navigator position was created to have one person oversee population-based care for this group of patients. The first IBD Nurse Navigator position was hired about two and a half years ago and uses the Epic Registry to provide better, more targeted care for patients.

The Epic Registry allows the IBD Nurse Navigator to figure out which patients are due for routine screenings and immunizations. At that point, the patient can be contacted to help them take the best care of themselves as possible. Inflammatory Bowel Disease, like most chronic diseases, involves routine maintenance care as well as acute interventions during times of flare. The Epic Registry also has a tool called the IBD Risk Score. This tool was created by gastroenterologists and Epic creators to help target patients who are at a higher risk for flares or hospitalizations. The navigator can reach out to these patients and discuss what is going on with their health, in hopes of intervening before they get to the point of a flare or trip to the emergency department. This keeps patients healthier and helps them enjoy a better quality of life.

The IBD Nurse Navigator facilitates an IBD Support Group, bringing in speakers to discuss different topics that affect patients who have IBD.  Katherine Graff, RN, IBD Nurse Navigator said they have a couple individuals with IBD who have committed to attending and are very comfortable speaking about their experiences with the disease.  This encourages newer group members to feel comfortable discussing personal concerns.

“The IBD Support Group provides patients with a safe environment to discuss their feelings and experiences that are very personal, and sometimes embarrassing,” Graff said. “We strive to promote an environment conducive to open, frank discussions about the challenges of living with IBD. We also want our patients to learn something new, especially something they probably wouldn’t get in a typical doctor’s appointment.”

“I am thrilled to be the IBD Nurse Navigator,” Graff said. “I love having the opportunity to help patients learn to live their lives while dealing with the chronic, yet often unpredictable nature of IBD. Carle Digestive Health is striving towards becoming an IBD Center of Excellence. I am truly honored to be involved in working towards that goal. These patients deserve the best possible care, and we will give it to them.”