Studies over the last several years have continually shown the importance of communications in providing good care in hospitals and other health care facilities. Whiteboards continue to be one of the key means of that communication, especially in patient rooms.
But to make whiteboards most effective, the communications must be patient-focused, according to Dr. Niraj L. Sehgal, who studied hospital whiteboard use back in 2010.
According to a review of the study in Today’s Hospitalist: “For Dr. Sehgal, the most compelling argument in favor of the conscientious use of bedside whiteboards is the potential to enhance patients’ involvement in their own care. That’s why he thinks whiteboards should focus on what patients want to know, not what physicians and nurses want to communicate.”
Since that time, other studies also have shown that whiteboards, when used to their fullest potential with information that is always current, can play a role in improving patient care.
So what kind of information is appropriate for whiteboards? At nurse’s stations, scheduling and patient assignments and needs is common.
In patient rooms, care notes and the names of tending nurses and doctors are the most common.
In Maine, Northern Maine Medical Center recently added patient room whiteboards.
“These boards do so much: they involve patients in their care, promote safety of the patient and enhance communication among the multiple disciplines involved in patient care,” said Cheryl Dangle, director of nursing. Read more about why NMMC installed patient room whiteboards.
EverWhite designs and manufactures whiteboards with templated medical care information that makes it easy to enhance care communications.
Those designs have included spaces to fill in patient names (or some form of patient ID), patient status, attending physician, current shift’s nurse, dietary needs, reception area welcome notes, and other information.
The whiteboards are often “branded” to include the health care facility’s logo and corporate colors. See examples of designs we’ve created.
To extend the use of a whiteboard for patient room communications, consider a board with a magnetic surface.
The use of whiteboards in patient rooms and at nursing stations is generally allowed under HIPAA regulations, which consider whiteboard communication as “incidental use and disclosure” when reasonable safeguards are taken to protect patient information.