How Clinicians Can Make Handoffs Safer and Faster

Handoffs are an unavoidable reality for patients in hospitals.

Yet every year, clinician miscommunication contributes to approximately one-third of serious inpatient medical errors, resulting in an estimated 250 000 preventable deaths annually in US hospitals.  Handoffs during transitions of care represent a significant proportion of inter-clinician communication and are particularly susceptible to error. The Joint Commission and the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education have identified handoff communication as a key target for national quality improvement and patient safety efforts.

Although EHRs are a fundamental part of provider handoffs, they fail to accommodate the specific handoff communication needs of providers by specialty. This leads to time-consuming work arounds, inefficiencies, and potential communication handoff errors.

The CORE Value Suite of apps addresses this gap with out-of-the-box EHR workflow integrated handoffs, customized for more than 300 specialties and subspecialties.

MY STORY: Carlos VILLAVICENCIO, MD, MS/MI, CLINICAL ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR IN HOSPITAL MEDICINE AT SEATTLE CHILDREN’S HOSPITAL

"We first implemented CORES as a more efficient, HIPAA-compliant way for physicians to manage handoffs. But as more members of the care team saw what it could do, they all wanted it. I’m the CORES liaison at Seattle Children’s and, lately, it seems like every area of the hospital that’s not already using CORES has been contacting me, asking for it.

The problem with the EMR is that it locks you into which data is displayed. But each service has team-specific information that they want to communicate during handoffs.

CORES enables you, the user, to present handoff information in the way that you think about that information. You customize CORES to fit your workflow, and then the printed handoff report it creates mirrors the way that your team treats patients.

Take ENT physicians, as an example. They track four things during handoff. So when they print a handoff report from CORES, each patient takes up half an inch. Pediatricians, on the other hand, need a lot more information during handoffs. Their reports will have one patient per page. Care coordinators usually fit eight patients per page. This ability to customize is a huge benefit for us. It’s made our handoff processes both faster and safer.

As medicine becomes more of a shift-work model, and we don’t have these crazy 36-hour shifts anymore, we have more handoffs. More handoffs mean more opportunities for things to fall through the cracks. You must have a really robust tool to control for that. For us, that’s CORES."
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CLINICAL ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR IN HOSPITAL MEDICINE AT SEATTLE CHILDREN’S HOSPITAL

 

 Carlos Villavicencio, MD MS/MI