7 Best Practices for Using Patient Communications Boards
Sometimes keeping it simple and low-tech does a better job. That’s certainly the case with patient communication boards. They can singlehandedly improve patient safety, patient/staff communication, and patient satisfaction. Using patient communication boards effectively can make the patient feel more receptive to any medical advice making their hospital stay just that much easier.
Multiple clinical trials and studies published by the National Library of Medicine show that patient satisfaction is tied to the patient/caregiver communication provided by the patient communication board. The better the communication via the patient communication board, the higher the patient satisfaction with the hospital stay.
Clarus knows how important patient communication boards are in simplifying hospital staff communication, patients, and their and families. They help keep patients and their families informed and engaged in their care plan and progress. But if they are to accomplish all that, the healthcare industry needs to maximize their effectiveness. Here are eight best practices to consider for effective communication.
#1 – Position it for patient visibility
Patients and their families need to be able to read the patient care boards easily. Some hospitals place them at the nursing station, in direct site of the patient’s room. Other hospitals place them in each patient’s room.
#2 – Make it readable and understandable
The way you communicate to your patient is typically different from when you’re communicating with your coworkers. The patient, or their family, should be able to digest the message easily. For example, they may not know that PT stands for physical therapy or that CT refers to a computed tomography scan.
#3 – Track all the important items
Typically, your patient communication board will have information such as the room number, patient’s preferred name, the names of caregivers (physician, nurse, etc.), patient goals, appointments for upcoming tests, labs and procedures, and anticipated discharge date. They may also list allergies and meal plans, preferred family contact, the day and date, pain medication schedule, and hourly rounding. Tracking hourly rounding is an important visual that provides comfort for patients and their families, letting them know someone will be in to check on the patient at regularly scheduled intervals. This goes a long way toward promoting patient satisfaction. Keep in mind that a patient communication board should be flexible to meet changing needs. You should be able to add or subtract items as necessary.
#5 – Update accurate and timely information
Make updating the entire board a priority. Many caregivers feel they don’t have time to update patient communication boards. After all, they are inputting information, sometimes the same information, in the patients’ Electronic Medical Records. But they must keep in mind that patient communication boards are mainly for the patients, but other caregivers use that information as well. And that can impact not just patient satisfaction but patient safety and the length of the patient’s hospital stay. For example, if a patient’s diet status has been changed to NPO (nothing by mouth) because they are scheduled for fasting labs, the tests will need to be rescheduled. This may result in a longer stay for the patient. At the very least, it’s an inconvenience that will impact patient satisfaction.
#6 – Attach a dry erase marker to the patient communication board
Sometimes it’s the little things that can make a big difference. A study reported by the National Library of Medicine, nurses, internal medicine house staff, and hospitalists revealed that the main barrier for not keeping patient communication boards updated regularly is that they couldn’t find a dry erase marker to use. If you want hospital staff to use the patient communication board, you must make it easy for them!
#7 – Ask for patient feedback
Find out how patients and families feel about the patient communication board. After all, it’s mainly for them! What did they find helpful? Was it able to relieve any anxiety? What areas did they think needed improving? Was the information up to date? Are there any items they think should be added to improve communication? If nurses are going to take their time to update the board, they need to know the answer to these questions to help them do a better job and increase patient satisfaction.