Talk, Talk, Talk – But not a word is uttered

Patient satisfaction and a positive experience is top-of-mind at the Knoxville Hospital & Clinics (KHC). To that end, KHC employees are always looking for ways to improve patient satisfaction.

One of the things that patients value is good communication. Patient communication boards, informally known as dry-erase white boards, are an effective way to improve teamwork, communication, patient care, and patient engagement. They also support a culture of transparency, which is important to patients and families.

If you are hospitalized at KHC, there’s a good chance you’ll spend considerable time looking at the board on the wall. Every inpatient room at KHC has one and, in many ways, is as important as the electronic chart.

“At a time when technology has taken center stage, a tool as simple as a patient communication board can be easily overlooked or underrated. Yet, there’s power in that simplicity, allowing the hospital to better engage patients, address relevant patient safety issues, and close communication gaps between providers and their patients and families,” said Larry Van Baale, Med Surg. Coordinator.

The nurses at KHC’s Medical/Surgical Department manage writing and updating the whiteboards each day. Using a templated board, the displayed information includes day and date; names of members of the patient care team; family member contact information; room number and telephone number; and care notes. Communication also entails pain management, ambulation (assistance needed, and whether a cane or walker is used), language and communication needs, fall and skin risks, and dietary needs; the goal or plan for the day; and discharge plans.

Patient communication boards personalize care. The most obvious is that all the information written on the board relates to the patient in the bed. Beyond that, content is tailored to patient preferences, special requests, alerts and updates. For instance, does the patient like to keep their door closed. Perhaps they prefer to be called “Dick” instead of Richard. Or maybe it’s a way to simply say “Happy Birthday” when you are spending your special day in the hospital.