Large-scale implementation of the I-PASS handover system at an academic medical centre

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Abstract

Background

Healthcare has become increasingly complex and care delivery models have changed dramatically (eg, team-based care, duty-hour restrictions). However, approaches to critical communications among providers have not evolved to meet these new challenges. Evidence from safety culture surveys, academic studies and malpractice claims suggests that healthcare handover quality is problematic, leading to preventable errors and adverse outcomes. To address this concern, from 2013 to 2016 Massachusetts General Hospital completed phase I of a multifaceted programme to implement standardised, structured handovers across all departments, units and direct care providers.

Methods

A multidisciplinary Handovers Committee selected the I-PASS handover system. Phase I implementation focused on large-scale training and shift-to-shift handovers. Important features included administrative and clinical leadership support; EHR templates for I-PASS; hospital handover policy revision; varied educational modalities, venues and durations; concomitant TeamSTEPPS training; unit-level I-PASS champions; handover observations; and solicitation of caregiver feedback and suggestions.

Results

More than 6000 doctors, nurses and therapists have been trained. Trended observation scores demonstrate progressive but non-uniform adoption of I-PASS, with significant improvements in the correct sequencing and percentage of I-PASS elements included in handovers. Adoption of Synthesis (readback) has been challenging, with lower scores.

Conclusions

Comprehensive I-PASS implementation in a large academic medical centre necessitated major cultural change. I-PASS education is straightforward, whereas assuring consistent and sustained adoption across all services is more challenging, requiring adaptation of the basic I-PASS structure to local needs and workflows. EHR I-PASS templates facilitated caregiver acceptance. Initial phase I results are encouraging and the lessons learned should be helpful to other programmes planning handover initiatives. Phase II is ongoing, focusing on more uniform and consistent adoption, spread and sustainability.

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