Change Ideas - Communication

  1. Combine all information across sources into a single stream of information that can be communicated at one time.
  2. Conduct focus groups to determine the key elements necessary for effective handoffs and develop tools to ensure that the receiver gets this information. Avoid irrelevant information to ensure sign-out is concise and thorough.21-23
    • Click here for examples of the types information to be included.
  3. For those responsible for unit management, ensure sign-out includes information about the capacity of the unit, acuity of all patients, and potential surge in capacity or acuity.21
  4. For change of service handoffs, include communication about complications during the present hospital course, consult recommendations, future plans of care (including discharge planning if applicable), family involvement, and anticipated social issues.24,25
  5. Use a pre-prepared handoff sheet or technology solution for written communication.21,26,27
    • Work with the IT/IS Department to customize an electronic version.
    • Ensure that the electronic tool minimizes inclusion of excessive information, including outdated and inaccurate information.
    • Cutting or copying and pasting from previous notes into a handoff tool increases the chance of passing on inaccurate information.
    • Use auto-population to the greatest extent possible.
  6. Promote a culture of accountability in the accuracy of printed and verbal handoff.
  7. If face-to-face communication is not possible, communicate by telephone or video (along with providing written information).
  8. Use closed-loop communication techniques to communicate critical information.
  9. Use an interactive process during verbal exchange that focuses on what to anticipate or what to do.26