Are handoffs your nemesis – an ongoing problem:
The ongoing Joint Commission Center for Transforming Healthcare’s Hand-off Communication project found that more than 37% of hand-offs were defective, and 21% of those initiating the hand-off felt a sense of dissatisfaction regarding the quality of the hand-off (JCCTH, 2010). A breakdown in communication was a leading cause of problems during hand-offs. The full report can be read by clicking this link.
Solutions can work in conjunction with your EHR:
Albeit the EHR has helped some with this issue, they have not proven to be the panacea that was expected. They do a good job of documenting patient information, one patient at a time, but are not so effective when dealing with multiple people and workflows. By setting up a fail-safe process for sending and receiving hand-offs, using proven tools, much of the problems that cause hand-off failures could be eliminated.
Healthcare can learn from other industries:
Although the delivery of healthcare is somewhat unique with a complex set of problems and issues involving multiple people, departments and technologies, it is not so exclusive that it cannot learn and borrow from other industries. Other industries introduced Lean, which is a proven methodology that healthcare organizations are beginning to embrace. Why not take that one step further and consider the use of “workflow tools” used in other industries to assist in “hand-offs” between systems, departments and people? Simply put, orchestrating hand-offs with the use of a technology overlay could greatly improve patient safety as well as increasing financial benefit.