Sep 28, 2020
A lot goes into the design of a patient room whiteboard, and although its overall design can dictate which types of patients the board caters to, its effectiveness on communication is entirely dependent upon how the whiteboard is used. One of the greatest challenges presented is getting hospital staff to use whiteboards to effectively communicate with patients, but once they are properly trained in their use, the benefits of using them are clear. The use of patient room whiteboards has led to increases in HCAHPS scores and productivity for nursing staff.
In order to most effectively use patient room whiteboards to better communicate with patients in your facility, follow these best practices.
Including the right information on the whiteboard is one of the most important things a healthcare professional can do when communicating with a patient using a whiteboard. But it’s not all about what is placed on the whiteboard. What is left off of it can matter just as much. There is a fine line to walk when it comes to whiteboard information; including too little leaves the patient lost and wanting more information; including too much can confuse a patient and leave them feeling overwhelmed.
Both of these situations are guaranteed to increase the stress levels of a patient and cause them to view their care less favorably.
When communicating with patients, it’s essential to gauge which information is most important to them, then combine that with what is most important and what they are least likely to remember. It sounds like piecing together an equation, but keeping this in mind while deciding which information to write down will make the whiteboard most useful to the patient.
It’s easy to forget the basics of verbal communication while writing down information on a whiteboard, but always remember that you are communicating with a patient first, writing on a whiteboard second. Patients will appreciate your communication skills most if you treat them like they are in the room with you, so it’s best to alternate between writing on a whiteboard and conversing with them.
One of the large pitfalls many care teams run into when using whiteboards in their facility is forgetting to designate who should fill out and keep it up to date. If everyone on the team is under the assumption that the whiteboard is being maintained by someone else, the information on it can become out of date quickly. Brief team meetings to designate who is in charge of using patient room boards can go a long way in maintaining a consistent level of communication and up to date patient/treatment information.
Now more than ever, it’s important to sanitize and keep patient room whiteboards clean. Thankfully, a good high-quality whiteboard makes it easy for care teams to clean them with most hospital grade cleaners, and those whiteboards also won’t fade or degrade over time.