Feb 19, 2021
Interprofessional collaboration, the process by which healthcare providers from different fields work with one another to effectively treat a patient, is an integral part of patient treatment, and its effects are felt by patients and providers alike. A major metanalysis of over 4,700 abstracts revealed that effective interprofessional collaboration has a positive impact on patients, hospital staff, and other organizational factors within hospitals. These positive impacts included lower staff turnover and error rates and increases in patient satisfaction.
A patient’s hospital experience is inevitably more pleasant when the staff are well organized, knowledgeable about the patient, and appear to communicate and coordinate care with ease. A major part of this process is the implementation of hospital whiteboards, which can greatly improve interprofessional collaboration.
The patient’s journey—from the moment they step into a healthcare facility all the way through their discharge— is filled with an interconnected care team comprised of any combination of physicians, nurses, therapists, pharmacists, radiologists, and many other healthcare professionals. Diagnosis and treatment consist of a large collection of spaced-out “dots,” each representative of an individual healthcare professional, that are connected by communication and interpersonal collaboration.
For example, a radiation treatment plan for cancer includes several moving parts involving multiple providers, including:
Even a patient that enters an emergency department (ED) for chest pain requires the collaboration of the ED doctor, cardiologist, radiologist, primary care physician, nurses, physical therapists, dieticians, and even possible social workers. The need for effective collaboration is urgent, and healthcare professionals need all the tools they can get to simplify interpersonal collaboration and make it more effective and beneficial for patients and providers.
The benefits of using whiteboards to communicate with patients are clear, but there is also a large advantage to using them as communication tools that relay information back and forth among physicians, lab technicians, nurses, and any other care team member involved in the care of specific patients.
Whiteboards are routinely placed at nurses' stations to serve as coordination and communication tools. They are also normally placed in emergency departments to track incoming patients and at hospital labs and imaging areas to coordinate patient tests and results.
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