Are There Alternatives to Whiteboards in Hospitals?

May 21, 2019

patient room whiteboard

Are there alternatives to using whiteboards in hospitals? The answer is yes, but none have proven themselves to be as effective, both in cost and performance, as custom whiteboards. Here are a few other options and why they pale in comparison to whiteboards.

Whiteboard Paint

Whiteboard paint is typically a high-gloss paint that has an epoxy additive that, when dry, creates a surface that is similar to a whiteboard. While whiteboard paint is the most economical option facilities can choose, it's also the lowest quality. Even the most high-end whiteboard paint will not perform anywhere near as well as the lowest end whiteboard, much less the quality, commercial-grade whiteboards facilities will need to effectively communicate with patients.

There are many disadvantages to using whiteboard paint:

  • Durability: whiteboard paint is only as hard as the surface it is attached to, and it easily sustains damage through normal use.
  • Longevity: whiteboard paint will wear away over time and will need to be reapplied often with heavy use.
  • Performance: whiteboard paint is easily stained and will leave faded marks (ghosting).
  • Features: there are no options to have magnetic surfaces, cork board attachments or any place to store markers.
  • Installation: because of the curing times, whiteboard paint takes up to a week to apply multiple coats. Fumes and odors from these coats are also not safe or pleasant.

Electronic (Interactive) Whiteboards 

As we surge forward in time, some interactive whiteboards have hit the market, yet most facilities still prefer a classic dry erase board or glass whiteboard for their patient rooms, nursing stations and other locations throughout the hospital. This is because, despite their technological prowess, there are many disadvantages to using electronic interactive whiteboards:

  • Training use: nurses and providers are busy enough as it is. It takes no training for a person to use a standard whiteboard. Interactive whiteboards, on the other hand, require instruction on how to use.
  • Cost: interactive whiteboards can cost up to $2,000-$3,000. Multiply that by hundreds of patient rooms in a facility, and the cost of outfitting a facility will skyrocket just for whiteboards. Every interactive whiteboard also uses power, which will drive up utility costs.
  • Maintenance: the simplicity of whiteboards is that they are easy to clean and maintain. When you add in other factors (electrical power, user interfaces, etc.) more maintenance and troubleshooting will be required when things go wrong.
  • Installation: installing a heavy interactive whiteboard takes more time, and facilities are limited in where they can place them because they must be located near a power source.¬†

Not Using a Whiteboard

While this is absolutely the cheapest option, facilities will also lose out on all the benefits of installing whiteboards. Research has shown that whiteboards improve patient communication, increase efficiency for nurses and increase HCAHPS scores (see more studies here). There is no reason to forgo the use of whiteboards in patient rooms, they are small, unobtrusive, affordable and very effective tools both patients and providers benefit from.

Want to learn more? Download our patient room boards white paper today.