December 4, 2009

White boards help clinics boost care quality, efficiency

Featured Image

Medical assistant Tina Wix checks the white board at the Adult Urology Clinic. (photo by Mary Donaldson)

White boards help clinics boost care quality, efficiency

A dozen large, flat-panel monitors hang on the walls at strategic locations throughout the Dermatology Clinic. Each displays the same readout, called the outpatient white board.

It's a grid indicating the location of each patient, the amount of time each patient has been there, and the assigned physician.

“Now, everybody in the clinic knows where everybody is at all times. It used to be you'd have to stop and ask 10 people, 'Where's Mr. Jones?'” said Mary Lou Gudelis, R.N., manager of the Dermatology Clinic.

All clinics at One Hundred Oaks use the outpatient white board.

“That white board really makes this clinic run,” said Diane Harris, R.T., manager of the Breast Center. “It's done a lot more for us than I thought it could. It's not just about moving patients through the clinic, it's about organizing our work and our thought process. It's gotten so we couldn't survive without it.”

The outpatient white board is a feature of StarPanel, the innovative electronic medical record system developed at Vanderbilt. The white boards project is an element of the Vanderbilt Medical Group strategic plan. This month, all adult clinics on campus will begin using electronic white boards, according to Debra Grimes, director of VMG training and organizational development.

In pediatric clinics on campus, as well as in Williamson County clinics, an older, rudimentary version of the white board is in use; those clinics will get the latest version by next May.

The logging is done by receptionists, patient care techs and nurses in the course of their work in the clinic appointment system and in StarPanel.

The basic tracking includes clinic arrival, exam room arrival, physician arrival, reconciliation of the medication list and exam room departure.
Depending on the clinic, the white board also tracks clinic processes such as electrocardiography, blood work, X-ray and cardiac catheterization.

On the front end, the white board supports smooth workflow. On the back end, workflow data from the white board furnishes reports on service times and room utilization.

“This is a structured, formal change management process driven by users,” Grimes said.

A white board advisory group formed of nurses, physicians and clinic support staff meets monthly to discuss alterations and upgrades.
Stuart Weinberg, M.D., assistant professor of Biomedical Informatics and Pediatrics, handles the technical end.

Any staff or faculty who wish to provide suggestions for ongoing development of the white board can contact their clinic's electronic medical records specialist.