AREA, GA – Despite a flurry of activity in healthcare systems across America to implement efficient electronic health records (EHRs) or even more efficient paper charts (PCs), one area hospital in Area, Georgia has decided to take it a step further and implement a state-of-the-art Post-it note system using Post-it notes, patients’ bodies, and the refrigerator in the nurse’s break room. So far, it has passed with flying colors, in particular neon yellow and blue.
“What can’t be communicated on a Post-it note?” asked charge nurse Becky Thompson, writing NPO on a bright pink sticky note and slapping it on the freezer door for all to see. She slaps a similar note on her patient’s forehead. “You think this guy’s gonna eat? I don’t think so!”
“There is less clutter, it’s fantastic,” said ER physician Jake Richards. He gestures at the countertops once filled with computers, printers, and charts; they are now filled with important things, like delivery menus, coffee machines, remote controls, and donut boxes. “Now my head and neck don’t feel so scrunched when I take a nap.”
Providers in all sectors of healthcare have been extremely frustrated trying to find open computers when using an electronic health record or three-ringed binders when using paper charts. Nothing takes the wind out of medical providers more than broken computer mice and misaligned hole punchers. With the groundbreaking multi-colored Post-it note system, day-to-day operations are maximally streamlined while keeping it exciting with eye-popping colors.
“Normally I don’t like being labeled, but I admit I’ve been amazed by the communication between providers and with me,” said patient Ryan Whitaker. He is covered from head to toe with sticky notes: “Admission,” “COPD flare,” “DNR,” “A bit whiny,” “Hasn’t pooped in a week,” and “No Dilaudid.” “I like the creativity too,” he adds, gesturing towards a yellow Post-it note placed on his penis. It reads: “Don’t forget to place a Foley.”
Providers admit they are having a blast using the new sticky note system. One senior gastroenterologist took it to another level when he endoscopically placed a Post-it note onto a patient’s gastric lining that simply read, “Hi, Mom!”
Activity in the nurse’s break room has remained steady since the implementation of the new sticky note system. The nurse’s break room has always been a high traffic area for nurses trying to escape doctors, doctors trying to escape patients, and social workers trying to escape doctors. Now, time in the nurse’s break room is much more productive as everyone pays attention to the refrigerator for the latest breaking patient news and snacks.
“I didn’t realize my patient needed to be on an insulin drip until I went to grab my sandwich,” said nurse Mara Rubenstein. She points to an “Insulin gtt, NOW!” sticky note by the fridge’s door handle, just to the left of the “Buy milk” Post-it. She starts eating her sandwich and sits back with a smile. “Once the pharmacist sees the note, we’re a go! This system is so simple!”
The Post-It notes have had other positive effects, like forcing providers to communicate succinctly, thus freeing them to spend time on more productive activities like billing. Surgeons have taken the lead, teaching wordier specialties like medicine and especially infectious diseases on how to communicate effectively, using words such as “Stable,” “No,” and “Meh.” Gone are the days of cut and paste. Here now are the days of four-word-long sticky note orders, notes, and discharge summaries, and everyone is convinced that’s a good thing.
“Post-It notes always worked at home when I grew up as a child, so why not here?” asked internal medicine physician Christine Gray as she visits new admissions in the ER. She places a “Chest pain” Post-it note on the chest of a patient with chest pain. At the sole of the patient’s right foot, she puts another sticky note: “Malingering.” She suppresses a giggle. “I can’t remember the last time I had this much fun writing notes! This is amazing!”