We all know about the benefits of the hospital white board. With today's iPad touch screen technology promising to revolutionize how doctors and nurses round in the hospital, I felt now was the perfect time to introduce my next great idea in hospital medicine: The computerized whiteboard with a centralized information technology solution. We have the ability today, to change forever, the way we interact and communicate with each other and our patients. Currently, whiteboards in patients' rooms are a low tech delivery method of high tech health care. They are an attempt to communicate to patients things thought to be important on a daily basis. We know communication improves patient satisfaction. In a new reality where Medicare pays based on patient satisfaction a centralized computerized whiteboard becomes even more relevant. In addition, satisfied patients who feel like they are an active part of their recovery are less likely to sue.
Just based on my personal experience as a hospitalist, I know patients and families are happiest when they believe they are receiving accurate, real time updates about their disease process and care plan. They want constant communication of the plan, especially when the plan is constantly changing multiple times a day. But there is no way doctors and nurses can be available, in the patient's room, 24 hours a day. What better way to provide them that service than to place a computerized centralized whiteboard in every room using the every thinner and ever cheaper and ever improving LED touch screen technology. This is a major IT initiative, but one, I believe is worth exploring to get ahead of what we can do to improve patient satisfaction and quality. What would my computerized white board look like? Here it is (click image for full size view):
- Communicate everyone involved in your care
- Communicate with out of hospital family and friends.
- Communicate what you're doing today and when it will happen
- Communicate critical findings
- Resource center for education
- Share questions/concerns/comments
What do patients want? My thoughts are based on just under a decade of experience in patient care. They want information in real time and they want communication. They want to know who you are, what's going to happen to them today and when it will happen. They want to know that nothing is being missed and they want to know that they are being treated like number one. If you give patients control over a situation in which they often have a lopsided and limited understanding, they will be happy. Happy patients mean happy hospitals and Happy Hospitalists.
A centralized computerized IT driven whiteboard is all about patient satisfaction. Would it be expensive? Certainly. The up front costs would be enormous in trying to integrate multiple computer systems across the hospital. Those costs would decline with time. But the immediate and long term benefits would be transforming. In terms of the hospital culture, a transparency revolution would be immediate. Patients will want to come to your hospital and will increase your market share immediately. They'll tell their friends and family about that hospital where they tell you everything and you feel great about knowing what's happening during your stay. Hospitals spend billions getting the latest technology for doctors to play with, technology that has neither been tested or proven to be better. Yet we still live in a world where nurses write "Dr Happy is your Hospitalist today" on a hospital whiteboard. We all deserve better than that.