Why Whiteboards Improve Patient Communication


How to Improve Patient Communication

Whiteboards Produce Better Care Results

The vast majority of physicians, nurses, and hospital administration would agree that efficient communication of vital information is a necessity for efficient and accurate care for the patient. Communication errors cause 65 percent of the sentinel events in most hospitals according to recent studies.

Positive Communication

Good communication benefits the staff by providing the most needed information in a format that can be regularly and quickly updated. The benefit of better communication to the patient is a greater sense of security and confidence in the care being provided and the benefit to the to the hospital is a minimum of five percent increase in patient satisfaction reports as measured by increased Press Ganey scores.

Research has found that the use of whiteboards improves communication between hospital staff and patients and improves communication between nursing staff and physicians. Effective communication provides the impression that the care facility is more interested in patient needs than in the institution’s needs.

Nurses bear the brunt of communication with patients and 80 percent of nurses surveyed agreed that whiteboards improve patient communication.

Benefits of Using Whiteboards

White boards have been shown to provide as much as a 50 percent reduction in errors, a 73 percent increase in patient and family understanding of the treatment being given, and an 80 percent increase in willingness to read the information posted on whiteboards by all persons involved in the patient’s care.

The basics of good whiteboard communication as established by surveys of nurses include the information to be displayed, the placement of the board and information, and the color scheme of the whiteboard.

Nurses and attending staff agreed that discharge date, daily goals, and family contact information are imperative for whiteboard communication. An updated white board containing these few basic pieces of patient information was found to be beneficial to attending physician, all care attendants, the patient’s family, and the patient.

Effects of Whiteboard Design

Surveys of all levels of hospital care personnel indicate that whiteboard design is essential in communicating the most important information to each group of personnel that sees the patient. Only high yield information should be posted and regularly updated on the whiteboard.

The whiteboard can be segregated into sections that provide general information to all staff and the patient and specific information for nursing staff, attending staff, and physicians in separate sections. The idea is one quick look updates the next person as to patient status and needs without having to comb through a large set of paper.

Think About Color Scheme

A color scheme that is easy to read from any distance in the room improves accuracy of communication and provides a pleasant atmosphere for the patient as well as reassurance that they are being cared for properly and effectively. Location of the whiteboard in the room must make the whiteboard the first thing staff see when they enter the room.

Whiteboards work to improve communication. Better patient care and fewer errors result from the use of whiteboards. The key to success is accuracy of information and a regular schedule of updating the whiteboard information so that all the data is current and therefore useful.