Everyone has been there: You walk into a room…. and for the life of you, you just can’t remember why. You told your brain you needed to do something and your body was in motion before your brain processed what exactly you were doing. If you’re like most people, you’ll then spend the next 3-5 minutes racking your brain for what exactly it was that you walked into the room for. Using a system of reminders is the key to preventing these types of situations from repeatedly occurring.

Every person has their own tips and tricks to jump-start their memory and give them the task reminders they need—while preserving their sanity. Reminders can generally be grouped into one of three categories, which are personal reminders, manual reminders, and electronic reminders.


3 Types of Reminders

  • Personal reminders rely on people to help provide the memory cue – typically heard as “don’t let me forget to.” or “remind me to do this”. This is the least effective method since it’s only as good as the memory of the person you are relying upon. Not to mention, everyone needs to take responsibility for their own actions and no one wants to mother other adults.
  • Manual reminders are old-fashioned, tried and true, memory aids. These are the figurative (or literal) strings you tie around your finger – the lists, the sticky notes on every surface of your home and work, the labels you see everywhere in your hospital. They are typically effective… if you notice them, read them, and generally pay attention.
  • Electronic reminders are the “on demand” cues you likely are using more and more of these days in both your work and personal life. “Hey Siri, remind me tomorrow to take the trash out”, calendar pop-ups that notify you to have a meeting starting in 15 minutes, an alert in your EMR that notifies you of potential drug interactions, or the IV pump that alarms every time an infusion is complete. Again, these types of reminders are effective only if you pay attention to them (and aren’t so overwhelmed by the sheer volume of them that you don’t start to resent them… or block them out entirely).

Many studies have been conducted evaluating the effectiveness of reminders and memory cues. Results are mixed, but in general, most times when some sort of “reminder aid” is used you can count on improved outcomes versus populations who use no sort of reminder. The general result of improved outcomes has been seen in studies across many different sectors and environments – from online shopping to appointment attendance rates – across all industries, to patient medication prescription adherence.


Reminder Cues at The Right Place, Right Time Work Best

The key to maximizing results is ensuring your reminders occur at the “right place, right time”. Psychology and science indicate that memory cues tend to be more effective when used in the place that the subsequent action would occur when it could occur. For example, a reminder to take a “Time Out” will be most effective if placed in the surgical suite, right before the operation. And a reminder to change IV tubing will be most effective directly on the IV tubing. Therefore, while electronic reminders have the potential to be more effective than manual reminders, if not immediately available at the right place, manual reminders could prove to be more valuable. In a recent survey to nursing professionals in hospital facilities nationwide, an astounding 86% of respondents indicated that simple visual reminders, such as labels, showed efficacy in prompting nurses to take action, showing that even a simple solution can provide results.


Smarter Reminders Use Technology at The Right Place, Time

The next generation of reminders seems to lie in between the manual and the electronic – having the “smarter technology” of electronic reminders, with the ease and accessibility of the good ol’ manual tools. One example of this is PDC’s new innovation, TimeAlert™ IV time-indicating reminder label for IV tubing changes. This simple, smart indicator shows the progression of time in a visual format, allowing caregivers to easily view how much time has elapsed since the last tubing change, right at the bedside with no calculations and less potential for human error. PDC developed this tool specifically to improve reminder tools for nursing staff while preserving the traditional workflow in place to minimize disruption.

At PDC Healthcare, we love to hear about what’s going on in your facility – your challenges and struggles and your triumphs. Give us a call or shoot us an email and let us know what you’re working on to help you remember, or what tasks you need help remembering. We may be able to help!


Smart Ways to Use Reminders So You Won’t Forget
Article Name
Smart Ways to Use Reminders So You Won’t Forget
Discover the three most common types of reminders and the SECRET to making reminders work more effectively to help nurses. Hint: Right place, right time.
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PDC Healthcare
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Jess Johnson is the Senior Brand Manager for Healthcare at PDC, helping to communicate to healthcare customers how PDC solutions can help them with workplace and patient safety. She joined PDC in 2019, with a background in B2B marketing communications and content creation. Jess has Marketing and Journalism degrees from Miami University in Oxford, OH. Originally from Northeast Ohio, Jess now lives in Santa Clarita, CA with her husband and pit-lab mix, Cashmere.


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