Electronic Whiteboards Improve Patient Care and Save Time
By Mandy Schneiker
As simple as they are, whiteboards (a.k.a. dry erase boards) have proven to be valuable and important healthcare tools over the years.
You’ll find them in hallways, nurses’ stations, patient rooms, surgical areas, ERs, birthing centers, and labs as a way for clinicians to communicate with one another (about staff assignments, shift changes, etc.), as well as with patients and families (sharing reminders about daily goals, upcoming mealtimes, names of care team members, etc.).
A recent study led by The Beryl Institute took a close look at hospital whiteboards at Chicago’s Rush University Medical Center. It revealed that appropriate use of whiteboards increases HCAHPS and Press Ganey scores through higher patient satisfaction levels.
The majority of today’s hospitals have dry erase boards on their walls—and they’ve been hanging there for years (whether or not they’re being used is another story). But, when time is at a premium, updating the boards can seem like just one more task on a never-ending list of to-dos. For as many benefits as whiteboards offer, they can present challenges for healthcare teams, too.
It takes lots of manual work (and a good memory) to keep whiteboards updated, especially when they need to be revised several times each day. (Every time there’s a shift change, you update the whiteboard. When a patient’s vitals are taken, you update the whiteboard again. As a patient’s test results come back, the board is revised once more.)
In comparison to everything else happening in a hospital, an outdated whiteboard may seem like no big deal—but it can actually lead to miscommunication, frustration, and even patient safety issues: medication errors, diet mix-ups, or falls.
For example, if the board in a patient’s room lists a normal diet, but the patient’s status has changed to fluids only, the patient likely won’t get the diet he or she requires—and patients and families see a disconnected and unorganized staff.
Dry erase boards can also create extra stress:
- The information on a whiteboard has likely already been entered into the patient’s electronic health record, creating double work
- Someone must be willing to maintain the boards during each shift
- Dry erase markers/erasers are often lost, damaged, or dried out
- Writing is easily erased or smudged, leading to misinterpretation
Fortunately, dry erase boards aren’t the only option when it comes to this type of interaction. A new breed of whiteboards—referred to as interactive digital whiteboards, digital whiteboards, or electronic whiteboards—are making lives easier for clinicians, patients, and families. Because they can be integrated with existing electronic health records and other systems, they can update themselves automatically—no hands-on work needed.
They also offer these five big benefits …
- Valuable Time Savings
Nurses and medical assistants don’t have to worry about constantly keeping several whiteboards updated each day. Instead, electronic whiteboards can be integrated with electronic health records so they update on their own as needed.
- Decreased Medical Errors & Miscommunication
The integration of electronic health records and electronic whiteboards we mentioned above also decreases the opportunity for human error. The information displayed on the electronic whiteboard is always current and changes in real-time. No one has to remember to revise it. When a change is made to a patient’s health information, the board updates automatically. It also eliminates the need to decipher handwriting or scribbled notes. Nothing is accidentally erased or misinterpreted.
- Improved Patient Satisfaction
Every minute saved by not having to update whiteboards (or look for markers) is one more minute nurses can spend with patients and families. Constant, real-time updating also keeps the patient up to date on what’s happening regarding their own care and gives family members reassurance about progress and treatment.
- Less Waste
You may not realize it, but traditional dry erase boards generate waste. They require a constant supply of new markers and erasers. Many nurses also resort to using tissues or paper towels to scrub whiteboards clean if they can’t find an eraser, leading to more waste. Eventually, the dry erase boards themselves also have to be thrown away as they become dirty or ghosted.
- Added Patient Amenities
Deploying electronic whiteboards in patient rooms helps open doors to new technology possibilities down the road: clinician-patient interaction via video, x-ray or ultrasound image review, and patient access to entertainment apps. These displays can do much more than act as replacements for traditional dry erase boards.
We’re proud to partner with HCI, which has introduced many “firsts” in healthcare. The company is a leader in interactive patient care products. Like CEC, HCI believes that innovative approaches to common healthcare dilemmas create happier patients, streamline workflows, and reduce operating costs.