Feb 26, 2021
Have you ever surveyed your patients or staff regarding the use and effectiveness of your patient room whiteboards? Do patients and care team members find them useful? Is there anything that could be done to make them better? If the whiteboards are rarely used, perhaps it’s because their design doesn’t quite make them useful as a communication tool.
Whether you are frustrated with the implementation of your patient room boards or are simply looking for a better whiteboard communication solution, one of the first steps is gathering the data necessary to make the best design choices. This includes choosing information fields that make the boards more interactive, helpful, and easy to use. What’s the best way to determine these things? The answer is asking the right questions of the people who will be using them.
Patients are your most valuable resource when it comes to what should and should not appear on a whiteboard, but it’s not always easy to discover what they want to get out of the whiteboard placed in their room. You can ask them what they want, but it’s most effective to ask pointed questions designed to elicit specific feedback. These can include:
- What did you find useful about the whiteboard placed in your room?
- What information would you like to have seen added to the whiteboard?
- What information did you find vague or unhelpful?
- How could the use of the whiteboard be improved when it comes to your treatment or stay?
- Did you often refer to the whiteboard for information? If yes, what information did you use the most?
- What can be done to make you want to interact more with the whiteboard?
Asking these questions will give you a better idea of how the patient interacted with the whiteboard, what they found most useful, and what they think could be improved. If you are in the early stages of creating a new whiteboard solution, this can help you select specific information fields while eliminating others.
Your care team is also a very valuable resource that can help you create the most effective and optimized whiteboard possible. Nurses, who are most likely to interact with the board, can be especially helpful in creating a solution that maximizes their efficiency and helps them better interact with patients. Some questions you can ask them include:
- How can the layout of the whiteboard be improved to make it easier to use?
- Which information fields are most helpful to helping you treat?
- Which information fields do patients seem to appreciate the most?
- What information fields are redundant and/or unhelpful?
- Do you find the whiteboard to be easy to use, clean, and maintain? What makes it not easy to do these things?
- Are we using language in the way you talk to your patients?
When it comes to care teams, a heavy focus will be on making the whiteboards easy to clean and use. When whiteboards are easy to use and maintain, they are most likely to be used by nurses, physicians, therapists, and everyone responsible for the care of the patient during their stay. Their feedback can be particularly helpful in how the whiteboard is outlined, what materials are used, and where it is placed in the room.
While the whiteboards will mostly be used by care teams and patients, it’s important to remember that there will be times when family members use them during their stay, especially for keeping track of provider information and upcoming tests/appointments that they may want to be present for. If possible, interact with a patient’s family to see what they find useful and not useful about the whiteboard placed in their family member’s room.
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