May 28, 2020
"A simple whiteboard that shows patients where they are in the perioperative process gives everyone — transporters, the director, nurses — a common source of truth that they can use to efficiently move patients through operating rooms and theaters."
This was a conclusion reached in Becker’s Hospital Review’s Three-Pronged Approach to Optimizing Patient Flow, a study that analyzed how hospitals can improve the flow of patients throughout a facility.
Patient flow has wide-reaching implication throughout a facility. It impacts the organization and efficiency of hospital staff, something that is directly tied to the level of care and customer service delivered to patients. It also allows facilities to prepare for peaks in patient visitors. Even with adequate staffing and resources, hospitals can find themselves suffering from long wait times as a result of inefficient patient flow. This can lead to lower patient satisfaction, something that will decrease the reimbursements a hospital receives while driving patients to competing facilities.
When analyzing issues with patient flow, Becker’s Hospital Review recommends using whiteboards as a way to track patients and improve efficiency, and the science agrees with them. Studies have found that implementing a planned approach to treatment that includes whiteboards can help facilitate timely referrals, improve patient flow, and enable timely and better discharge planning. Some areas of a hospital remain incredibly complex because they rely on the coordination of several departments. Operating rooms rely on anesthesiology, and many areas have to coordinate with labs, pharmacy, and admissions to move patients through the treatment process. Hospital whiteboards help facilitate this process in several ways.
Whiteboards provide an organized internal display of patients as they move throughout the facility. These visual displays prevent patients from becoming lost within the system and can be used by staff to track patients as they come in through admissions or the emergency room, are sent to a specific area of the hospital, and are ultimately discharged after a short or long-term stay. This style of tracking can reduce delays and prevent bottlenecks in certain departments due to an influx of new or unexpected patients.
Areas like radiology, labs, and pharmacies can have high numbers of requests and patients coming in and out of their department at any given time. Whiteboards can be used to track patients moving through the department as well as update the status of testing, imaging, medication orders and other commonplace procedures and evaluations. This enhances communication between departments and increases the speed and accuracy in which results are delivered.
Hospitals deal in countless amounts of supplies that move in and out of a facility, all of which are integral to either treating patients or enhancing their stay within a facility. Materials management has become a growing field where whiteboards are helping hospitals stay organized and improve patient flow. By tracking shipments, inventory levels and more, hospitals will always be prepared to deploy resources to areas of the facility that need them most.