3 Reasons Why Your Patient Room Whiteboards Aren’t Effective

Dec 15, 2020

north big horn hospital


When used effectively, whiteboards in hospitals and healthcare facilities can greatly improve teamwork, communication, and patient care. However, these patient-centered tools don’t always work as intended. Sometimes it’s because of their design; sometimes it’s because of some type of user error. When incorrectly used or implemented, the results are far less effective. If you have not seen your patient room whiteboards make a difference in patient satisfaction and care, the problem may lie in one of these areas. 

Lack of Customization

Some facilities use stock whiteboards or even blank whiteboards without pre-set fields. Neither of these types of whiteboards are going to obtain ideal results for a facility. Blank whiteboards are likely to go unused because of their appearance and because it simply takes nurses and providers too long to lay them out and fill in fields they have to make on their own. Other whiteboards simply offer facilities pre-set fields and no customization options at all. 

One of the best benefits of investing in custom whiteboards is it gives you and your staff the ability to cater the whiteboards specifically to the patients you see most on a day-to-day basis. This not only makes the information fields you choose to include more relevant, it also makes the boards easier for staff to use. When care teams know the whiteboards they interact with will be more relevant to the patients they are treating, they are far more likely to put them to good use. 

Incomplete Information

Once you have a set of custom whiteboards deployed in your facility, it’s a great practice to train anyone who will be interacting with them in their use. This not only familiarizes staff with the communication tools, but it also sets a precedent for who should be using them, when to use them, and how to use them. One of the largest problems facilities run into is lack of or incomplete information on whiteboards. This is generally due to staff forgetting to fill them out or only partially filling them out during a patient’s stay. A simple and quick training course will allow staff to collaborate and coordinate the best ways to use the whiteboards to provide valuable information to patients. 

Lack of Understanding from Patients

There are two main reasons a patient may not understand what is written on a whiteboard: 

1. The writing is illegible 

2. The information is too complex 

Writing on a whiteboard, especially when you’re in a rush, is a skill that can be developed over time, but it’s an important one to get the most out of the communication tool. Staff would be best served to take their time when writing information on the board so that all patients (regardless of age or ability) can read and comprehend the information. 

Another mistake is using terminology or acronyms that patients are unfamiliar with. Always remember that patient room whiteboards are only a part of the communication process. They are not a replacement for interaction with the patient. The most effective way to use a whiteboard is to go over the information with patients as it is being written down. 


Remember that customization is the key to success. Ready to customize your whiteboard? Get in touch with VividBoard today! 



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