The patient experience is an area of healthcare that can no longer be overlooked. Patients are routinely questioned about the care they receive through HCHAPS surveys. The results of these surveys can have an impact of the level of Medicare reimbursement a hospital receives. According HCAHPS to December 2014 summaries, 21% of patients did not feel like nurses always communicated well, 36% did not feel they were always provided information about their medications, and 32% did not feel the hospital staff were always responsive.
Can a simple whiteboard be used as effective communication tool to address these problem areas and improve patient satisfaction and HCAHPS scores?
Communication with Nurses
There are many reasons why a patient can feel like a nurse hasn’t communicated effectively. Often nurses share more information with a patient than they are able to retain. Or a nurse might have omitted information because they did not think it was important. Other times, a patient may simply forget the conversation. A few things nurses can do to improve satisfaction levels related to communication include:
- Writing the information down for the patient in a location easily viewable like a bedside whiteboard
- Reminding the patient of important information about their treatment plan, medications, and their next scheduled procedure or test
- Ensuring that patients have an ample opportunity to ask questions receive appropriate education related to their treatment plan
MedicationsNo matter the diagnosis, it seems that every patient in the hospital is given a laundry list of medications. If you couple any new medications with the generics and substitutes that hospitals provide for a patients routine medications, it’s easy to see how a patient can feel they are left in the dark about their medications.
It isn’t enough for a nurse to stand at the bedside and hurriedly say the names of the medications the patient will be taking. Instead, the nurse should take the time to ensure that the patient is clear on the name of the medication, what it is for, and whether or not it is a replacement for a mediation they typically take or a new medication related to their hospital stay. Writing a patients medications on a whiteboard can help to ensure that a patient is clear on the medications they are taking. This list will be helpful if the patient thinks of a question about their medication later or wants to do their own research.
Responsiveness of Hospital StaffHospitals are busy and patients can sometimes feel that they are not priority. PRN (as needed) medications are an example of where a patient can feel they aren’t getting the level of care they deserve. For example, a patient may not be clear on the frequency they can receive a medication or they may have forgotten the last time they took the medication. Having this information written on a bedside whiteboard is an easy reminder to let the patient know whether they can have medication. With this information the nurse will be able to immediately give the medication when the patient requests instead of potentially having to inform a patient that the medication is unavailable for another hour.
In addition, whiteboards can also improve patient transitions and handoffs by improving the communication between nurses as shift change. This can help nurses to address needs of their patients more quickly because they will not have to search through the chart for information.