An Idea Board for Patients

Over the past year, more than 400 employee idea boards have gone up across the health system. The boards have brought to life thousands of ideas aimed at improving the UMass Memorial experience for our patients and caregivers, and they are having a very positive impact on both. The innovative things people have come up with using the boards never cease to amaze me.

Here are just a few:

  • The lab at Clinton Hospital installed a buzzer system at the drawing station that rings the lab to provide backup during busy times.
  • Staff on 6 West, University Campus are now using “Shampoo Caps” to help wash bedridden patients’ hair.
  • The Office of Clinical Integration now keeps Idea Form Pads available during meetings, to post ideas in real time, rather than waiting for huddles.

Idea boards come in all shapes and sizes. Here are a few of the more creative examples I’ve seen in my travels around the system.


Lakeside 3 – University Campus



5 East – University Campus




Lakeside 3 – University Campus











Recognizing that our patients and their families may also have great ideas about how we can improve, Benedict General Internal Medicine/Primary Care Clinic implemented their idea of creating a “patient idea board.”

final3Since the board went live, dozens of ideas have been received and we are actively working to implement as many as possible.

Another great example of a patient idea board is the one created by our Patient Experience team, who created a mobile board with our Patient and Family Advisory Council (PFAC). The concept is simple: A patient experience caregiver teams up with a member of our PFAC to ask patients AND their family members if they are interested in speaking with them about ideas to improve the patient and visitor experience.

The team brings a “mobile” version of their idea board to the visit and explains the purpose, goals and successes of the board. The visits have taken place in waiting rooms and in patient rooms. Some of the concerns of patients and their families can be immediately addressed and fixed. “We work closely with the nursing team and have been able to make some quick fixes that are easy for the staff to implement and that can make a tremendous difference for the patients,” said Leigh Casillo, director of Patient Experience.

If more assistance is necessary to help implement the idea, we start the steps needed and keep the patient and family involved and informed all the way through implementation.


The Patient Experience/PFAC "Mobile" Idea Board. (L to R): Crystal Lehto (Pt. Experience), Beth Elbeg (South 2), Janet Lamy (PFAC), John Trogolo (PFAC), Brian Murphrey (PFAC), Jessica Ramsey (South 2)

The Patient Experience/PFAC “Mobile” Idea Board.
(L to R): Crystal Lehto (Pt. Experience), Beth Elbeg (South 2), Janet Lamy (PFAC), John Trogolo (PFAC), Brian Murphrey (PFAC), Jessica Ramsey (South 2)

So far, the board is being used as a pilot program on South 2 on the Medical Center’s Memorial Campus. The team — Clinical Coordinator Greg Thames, ACNO Cathy Jewell,  Nurse Manager Beth Elbeg,  Project Managers Amanda DiBuono and  Crystal Lehto, Mariann Manno, MD, and Leigh Casillo — have worked closely with PFAC members, but the power of the interactions really comes from the input of patients and family members. According to Casillo, “What is unique about this process is that we are letting the patients and family members take the leadership role. This really goes beyond idea generation and focuses on the importance of human interaction.”

Through the employee and patient idea boards, we are creating an army of innovators that will allow us to be successful now and in the future.

Thanks to everyone who has participated in the program and to all of you for taking great care of our patients and one another,


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