Contact Us by Phone: 301-790-0103


*This post was updated July, 3 2017* Enhancing Patient Satisfaction is a high priority for hospital leaders as it does not just improve the hospital brand and engender patient loyalty, it directly impacts the hospital’s bottom line through value-based reimbursement. If the patient feels that they are positively engaged and cared for, they are satisfied, and HCAHPS scores improve. Hospitals are now scrambling to find tools that will assist with patient satisfaction in the right ways to accomplish their goals. Adoption of digital patient room whiteboards, tablet-based patient portals, and infotainment systems is on the rise to improve engagement and satisfaction scores.

Why now? While these technologies are being utilized and have been for decades, naturally, the hardware required is becoming much more affordable, and the software is becoming much better. Additionally, hospital leadership is finding that an educated patient is a safer patient. The value of properly executed coordination of care between the physician, nurses, aides, the patient and their family members is immeasurable and maintains a certain synergy between all parties within the continuum of care. Placing the information that the patient needs in their room with patient satisfaction technology directly impacts the HCAHPS scores and if done properly, the reimbursements for the hospital.         

In this article, we will spend some time describing each tool and their capabilities. We will look at what results to expect when using these tools and we will also explore what solution may be best to get the most out of the ever-limited CapEx budget.

The Concepts Behind Tablet-Based Patient Portals, Digital Patient Room Whiteboards, and Patient Infotainment systems

Tablet-Based Patient Portals
A tablet owned by either the hospital or the patient and is used to access patient information, education and activities.

Patient Infotainment Solutions
A device connected to each television in the hospital room that defaults the home screen of the TV to a branded menu for the hospital. The patient selects what they would like to do using a remote, pillow speaker controller or a wireless computer keyboard. Such activities can include reviewing information about their care, watching educational videos, watching movies and TV, playing video games or checking email.

Digital Patient Room Whiteboards
An electronic display that replaces the existing dry-erase board and is connected to the EHR and other systems to update automatically and in real-time. The digital whiteboard is always on and independent of other displays including the TV. The information presented is beneficial for the patients, their family members, and the staff to see at all times.

5 Points of Criteria to Use While Exploring Patient Engagement Tools

When comparing these satisfaction tools, it is advantageous to establish criteria for the analysis. The five criteria for this subject are as follows:

1. Patient Ease of Use
2.Importance of Information to the Patient
3.Employee Workflow
4.Replacement of an Established Process

1. Patient Ease of Use

Tablet-Based Patient Portals – Patient requests to see their information on a tablet. The patient either supplies their tablet or the hospital will take one from their cache of loaner tablets. Patient navigates the user interface with the tablet’s touch screen.

Patient Infotainment Systems – A patient uses the supplied device (remote, pillow speaker controller, or computer keyboard) to navigate the user interface.

Digital Patient Room Whiteboard – Patient looks at it when they want the information.

2. Importance of Information to the Patient

When admitted to the hospital, patients are scared and information deprived. It is an emotional time for the patient and their family members. In our opinion, the chart below outlines what the patient feels is, and is not, urgent and important during their stay.

Figure 1

Figure 1


3. Employee Workflow

Tablet-Based Patient Portals – The nurse logs into the service for the patient and then demonstrates to the patient and their family members how to navigate the system.

Patient Infotainment Systems – The nurse orients and explains to the patient and family members how to use the device and the service. Alerts may pop-up over the movie or TV show to ask the patient for feedback including pain assessments and other information that is usually collected during a purposeful round, then fed back to the nurse via text messages and EHR entry.

Digital Patient Room Whiteboard – Nurse documents in the EHR as she normally does and the digital whiteboard automatically displays the information, specific to  the patient.  

4. Replacement of an Established Process

Over the decades, hospitals have established dry-erase boards in the patient rooms as a standard and best practice to improve patient communications.   

Challenges to keep the whiteboards filled out, keep them accurate, and to keep them up-to-date persist for users of this medium. All challenges aside, for the patient to see the information in front of them has proven to be beneficial.

To overcome the challenges listed above, Tablet-Based Patient Portals, Infotainment Systems, and Digital Whiteboard systems have connected to the EHR to deliver this information, and they do so in different ways.

Tablet-Based Patient Portals display the “whiteboard” in a page within the interface, however, some hospitals that deploy this technology still maintain a dry-erase board in each room because not all patients use the tablets.

Similarly, the Infotainment System has a “whiteboard” page the patient navigates to and can see their information. Likewise, some hospitals still utilize a dry-erase board with this solution because not all patients choose to navigate to the whiteboard built into the system.

Digital Patient Room Whiteboard Systems physically replace the dry-erase boards on the wall and makes the information easier to read, automates the “whiteboard,” and is always on for the patient to look at whenever they want to

5. Cost

Unlike the legacy dry-erase system, there is a different cost structure that exists with technology.

1.Capital Outlay
3.Existing or upgraded infrastructure enhancements
4.Staff Time

Capital Outlay Chart

Figure 2


Employee Workflow is any manual process involved in upkeeping the solution for each patient to use and benefit from the medium. Tablet-Based Patient Portals require the nurse to set them up and demonstrate to the patient how to use it. Infotainment systems require limited workflow from the staff to show the user interface to the patient so they can get the most use from it. Digital Whiteboard systems require no new or additional staff workflow.

Patient Ease of Use is any manual process to use the solution by the patient or their families. Tablet-Based Patient Portals require full interaction by the patient to access information via the touch screen on the tablet. Similarly, Infotainment Systems require the patient to use a remote control, computer keyboard or pillow speaker controller to access the information. Digital Whiteboard Systems require the patient and staff to look at it as one would a clock. The information flows automatically from external systems and is always on.

Importance of Information to the Patient is to present information that is top of mind for the patient. Per FIGURE 1, patient room information has four primary segments, Urgent and Important, Not-Urgent but Important, Urgent but Not-Important, and Not-Urgent and Not Important. Tablet-Based Patient Portals serve the role of delivering information that patients would seek out when they are interested in doing so. For example, medical records, test results and other information that would be considered important but not urgent. Infotainment Systems are great at patient education videos as well as high-quality TV and movie services for the patient. Such entertainment services are attractive to the patient but are not critical to their care. Digital Whiteboard Systems display the essential information relating to the patient’s care and is top-of-mind in most cases.   

Replacement of Established Process involves the replacement of the primary communication medium for patients used for decades, the dry-erase board, with a medium that does the job more effectively. When examining the mediums against these criteria, questions arise, including, does a dry-erase board still need to be on the wall? How easy is it for the patient to access the information? And how well does the replacement augment the dry-erase board? The Tablet-Based Patient Portal, in most cases, requires the use of a dry-erase board in each room. Infotainment Solutions may default to a whiteboard if configured that way, however, is not always viewable if the patient wants to watch other content, removing the critical information from the patient’s view. Digital Whiteboard Systems not only replace the established process physically on the wall but also displays the pre-existing data from the dry-erase board but in an automated fashion and it augments that technology with safety alerts, pictures of staff and easy to read information.

Cost is broken down in FIGURE 2 and shows the most affordable solution is the Tablet-Based Patient Portal, next most affordable is the Digital Whiteboard Solution and lastly the Infotainment system.

Overview Chart


Leadership often finds themselves in a challenging situation. When shopping for a Patient Satisfaction tool, the decisions from committees often favor the solution that has the most features or has the smallest price tag, or both.

A good example of having the right tool for the job is cutlery. Yes, knives. If you want to be the best you can at cutting vegetables and meat in the kitchen, especially with elevated dishes, you must have the right knife. In cooking, it’s all about the cut. So you shop for a new knife, and you come back with a Swiss Army knife. Why? It has the most features and was on sale! However, is it the best tool for the job? Just as cooking is all about the cut, practicing medicine is all about the care. Do you want to invest in the most features or the lowest price tag? Or do you invest in the best tool for the job?

Is your hospital interested in improving your HCAHPS scores? If so, which ones? Which one would you add to the top of the priority list? Do you feel there is substantial overlap with these technologies or do they compliment each other? These questions are great ones to bring up at your next committee meeting when deciding on the solution that would be the best fit for your organization.

To learn more about how our Medi+Sign digital whiteboard system can help your organization, please visit us at

MEDI+SIGN is a registered trademarks of Specialized Communications, Inc. Other company and product names may be trademarks of their respective owners.

© 2017 MEDI+SIGN® Some Rights Reserved