12 patient handoff communication tools to know

Here are 12 tools that aim to improve patient handoff at healthcare facilities.

Digital Nurse Assistant. Developed by PARC, a Xerox company, Digital Nurse Assistant is an electronic medical record extender. The tool automates numerous tasks nurses typically perform by hand. It delivers real-time data to clinicians and allows nurses to re-prioritize their tasks quickly to manage new challenges and issues.

Smart Sign Out. The iPad application helps healthcare providers with patient information sharing. Developed by Cypress North, the software allows physicians to update patient information in real time, from the patient's bedside if need be. The software features a patient dashboard color-coded by risk level as well as integrated auto-complete for more than 14,000 diagnoses and 9,000 medications.

Safer Sign Out. The Safer Sign Out protocol, developed by the Emergency Medicine Patient Safety Foundation, aims to improve the safety and reliability of end-of-shift patient handoffs. The protocol includes five components:

•    Record using a form
•    Review
•    Round together
•    Relay to the team
•    Receive feedback

The Safer Sign Out form includes sections for the patient's name and age, a list of problems and key issues, pending items, patient disposition and other notes.

Patient Hand-Off/Over Tool Kit. Developed by AORN and the U.S. Department of Defense Patient Safety Program, the web-based tool kit provides resources to help standardize hand-off communications among healthcare providers. It is based on the Department of Defense Patient Safety Program TeamSTEPPS initiative. TeamSTEPPS is an evidence-based strategy aimed at improving communication and teamwork skills among healthcare professionals, including frontline staff.

Targeted Solutions Tool. The Joint Commission Center for Transforming Healthcare's Targeted Solutions Tool measures the effectiveness of handoffs and provides solutions for improvements. The tool matched expectations between senders (caregivers who transmit patient data and transfer care) and receivers (caregivers who accept patient data and care). The tool also provides customizable forms for data collection.

I-PASS Handoff Bundle. Created by I-PASS Institute, the bundle aims to establish a standardized approach to handoffs in inpatient settings. It is a comprehensive and evidence-based suite of educational materials created for a multi-site study. It consists of six major complementary components including handoff simulation exercises and assessment tools.

SBAR handoff tool. The tool was developed by the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses. It is a free communication tool designed to enhance patient hand-offs by reminding providers to follow these four steps: Situation, Background, Assessment and Recommendations. The tool also outlines AACN standards for healthy work environment.

Medical Transitions and Clinical Handoffs Toolkit. The toolkit, released by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, aims to improve medication reconciliation at healthcare facilities. The toolkit is based on the Medications at Transitions and Clinical Handoffs website, developed by Gary Noskin, MD, and Kristine Gleason, RPh, of Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago. The toolkit incorporates the experiences of healthcare facilities that have implemented MATCH strategies.

Sign-out software. Kolkin offers a free sign-out software for download. The software includes a secure physician case list, real-time patient handoff capabilities, team instant messaging and a clinical article editor. The software addresses HIPAA and The Joint Commission's National Patient Safety Goal 2E.

Pocket card for safe clinic handoffs. The pocket card was developed by University of Chicago Medical Center. The card includes patient handoff tips, such as clearly notify patients, look over patient panels and identify high risk patients.

Patient handover toolkit. The free downloadable toolkit from the Royal College of Physicians focuses on patient handovers. It focuses on defining good handover, looking at problems often experienced and setting out recommendations for improved, standardized handover protocols. It includes two templates — a handover proceedings sheet and a form for out-of-hours handover.

Patient handoff policy and form. The Morehouse School of Medicine in Atlanta offers a downloadable patient handoff policy and sample form. The policy includes a purpose statement, background information, characteristics of a high-quality handoff and the handoff procedures. The sample form is used to verify and document the occurrence of five events, including communication of up-to-date information regarding the patient.

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