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​Clear and effective communication is an essential component of safe patient care — especially during transfers. Given a 4.8-day average length of stay, patient handoffs take place at least 24 times per admission, creating an abundance of opportunities for communication breakdowns that could cause patient harm. In fact, Joint Commission data show that communication failures were listed as a contributing cause in 60% of cases in 4,977 sentinel events recorded from 1995 to 2008. However, if the essential elements of good communication are adhered to consistently, patient safety and outcomes can be improved.
To provide hospitals with tools and models to begin to build an effective program for communication and handoffs, the Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI) is offering its latest Expedition, Improving Transitions in Hospital Care. Over the course of six web-based sessions, expert faculty will provide participants with proven methods that they can begin to test and implement in their own organizations. With the ultimate goal of improved patient safety, participants will build a process to improve transitions and handoffs in care with standard models and communication techniques.
At the end of this Expedition, each participant will be able to:
  • Identify opportunities for improvement in patient transitions and handoffs
  • Test provider-to-provider handoffs and develop a plan for improvement
  • Test structured handoffs for patient transfers between facility departments
  • Test a handoff/transition tool for discharging patients

Who Should Participate

  • Nurses
  • Quality Department heads
  • Physicians
  • Surgical team members
  • Patient care coordinators
  • Physician/Nurse assistants
  • Chief Medical Officers
  • Chief Nursing Officers

What's Involved?​


The Program

This program will include:

  • Send-Off Call to orient all teams, review the route, and provide guidance for specific steps
  • Check-In Calls every two weeks for faculty to provide advice and mid-course adjustments
  • Ongoing opportunities to share with and learn from other participating organizations
  • Opportunities for periodic check-ins with faculty
  • Concluding Call to reflect on the achievement and plot the next climb


Success Factors

Teams will need the following to be successful in this Expedition:

  • Strong team-based improvement capacity
  • Designated team, ideally to include a nurse working on the testing unit or able to lead the work, an internal quality/performance improvement expert, and a physician champion
  • Sponsorship and support from hospital leadership
  • Clear commitment to the goal and the process