How Healthcare Whiteboards Enhance the 5 Types of Communication

Apr 08, 2021

doctor handshake

Effectively communicating with patients is one of the most important parts of the medical field. It’s a skill that physicians, nurses, therapists, and all other medical professionals are trained to master, but enhancing this skill is not always easy. Communication, in and of itself, is a complex field that researchers have studied for generations. Its best practices are backed by research, some of which has identified five main types of communication: 


- Verbal
- Non-verbal
- Written
- Visual
- Listening


When used in conjunction with patient room whiteboards, these types of communication practices become even more effective at informing patients, reducing their anxiety, and increasing their satisfaction of their care. 


Enhancing Verbal Communication 


Verbal communication, while necessary, is not always effective. When placed in an uncertain and anxious state, as many patients are, researchers find that people have trouble remembering information that is communicated to them. Patient room whiteboards help providers supplement verbal communication with written and visual information.  


When you speak with someone while simultaneously writing down the information, you are engaging more than one of  their senses. This allows them to better focus on what is being conveyed, which can help them remember it. When going over treatment information, symptoms, outcomes, etc. with a patient, providers can greatly increase the effectiveness of the conversation by supplementing what they say with writing. 


Enhancing Non-Verbal Communication 


Body language and non-verbal cues are a substantial part of communication. It’s not just only about what is being said, but the way in which it is being presented. Working with whiteboards while communicating with a patient gives the appearance that providers are more involved and engaged in the conversation. It also gives providers something to do with their body while communicating. Many of the negatively perceived non-verbal cues (slouching, crossed arms, leaning backward, etc.) are eliminated when you are actively writing on a whiteboard and calling the patient’s attention to it. 


Enhancing Written Communication 


While patient room whiteboards use a form of written communication, their advantage is that they are a permanent fixture within patient rooms. When placed effectively, they act as a consistent reminder and source of information the patient can refer back to. Unlike a piece of paper that can become lost, damaged, or thrown away, whiteboards are a permanent part of the patient's room and their experience when staying at a facility. 


Enhancing Visual Communication 


Using visual aids in healthcare communication allows patients to process information faster and more thoroughly, with images being processed in milliseconds. Providers can greatly simplify complex medical topics by using whiteboards to provide visual aids. Whether it’s using diagrams to explain a process, listing out symptoms or treatment options, or visualizing an upcoming treatment schedule, the patient room whiteboard is the key to the visual communication process. 


For further reading on whiteboards and visual communication, see our post about it here. 




Communication is a two-way street, which means listening is just as much of a part of the process as speaking. Patients want to feel like their concerns and questions are being heard, and whiteboards can be a key part of that listening experience. Providers can write down the questions and concerns patients have on the whiteboard, addressing each one of them in turn. This shows patients that they are not only being listened to, but their concerns and questions are also being recorded and addressed properly. 


The key to enhancing communication lies in the design of your whiteboard. We can help you create a communication aid that makes your patients feel heard, understood, and well cared for. Contact Ghent Healthcare today to get started.