Background: Patient whiteboards facilitate communication between patients and hospital providers, but little is known about their impact on patient satisfaction and awareness. Our objectives were to: measure the impact in improving patients' understanding of and satisfaction with care; understand barriers for their use by physicians and how these could be overcome; and explore their impact on staff and patients' families.
Methods: In 2012, we conducted a 3-week pilot of multidisciplinary whiteboard use with 104 inpatients on the general medicine service at Stanford University Medical Center. A brief, inperson survey was conducted with two groups: (1) 56 patients on two inpatient units with whiteboards and (2) 48 patients on two inpatient units without whiteboards. Questions included understanding of: physician name, goals of care, discharge date and satisfaction with care. We surveyed 25 internal medicine residents regarding challenges of whiteboard use, along with physical therapists, occupational therapists, case managers, consulting physicians and patients' family members (n=40).
Results: The use of whiteboards significantly increased the proportion of patients who knew: their physician (p≤=0.0001), goals for admission (p≤=0.0016), their estimated discharge date (p≤=0.049) and improved satisfaction with the hospital stay overall (p≤=0.0242). Physicians, ancillary staff and patient families all found the whiteboards to be helpful. In response, residents were also more likely to integrate whiteboard use into their daily work flow.
Conclusions: Inpatient whiteboards help physicians and ancillary staff with communication, improve patients' awareness of their care team, admission plans and duration of admission, and significantly improve patient overall satisfaction.
Keywords: Internal Medicine.