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Improved Physician Work Flow After Integrating Sign-out Notes into the Electronic Medical Record

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Abstract:

Background: In recent years, electronic sign-out notes have been identified as a means of enhancing the effective transfer of patient care between providers. Such a tool was developed and implemented within the electronic medical record (EMR) system, and its impact on physician work flow was assessed.

Methods: A printable sign-out report was implemented within the EMR system at a tertiary academic children's hospital. Month 1 post go-live survey data were collected in June and July 2006, and 6-month post go-live survey data were collected in November and December 2006. Use of the sign-out form to document handoff data between go-live and Month 16 (September 2007) was measured using log data from the EMR. Housestaff physicians were asked to report the impact of the tool on their work flow and satisfaction with the sign-out process through a Web-based survey.

Results: The sign-out report was steadily adopted following its introduction. Between the first and second surveys, use of EMR–integrated sign-out increased from 37% to 81% of respondents for day-to-night sign-out (2 = 12.79, p < .001) and from 14% to 39% for night-to-day sign-out (2 = 5.08, p < .05). With increased use of the report, housestaff reported less time devoted to redundant data entry and increased satisfaction with the sign-out process.

Discussion: EMR–integrated sign-out documents offer the advantages of other electronic network–accessible systems and can also incorporate information already in the medical record in an automated manner. Although the primary motivation for introducing standardized, EMR–integrated sign-out documents is to enhance the safety of patient handoffs, the perception of improved physician work flow is also a benefit of such an intervention.

Document Type: Short Communication

Publication date: February 1, 2010

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  • Published monthly, The Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety is a peer-reviewed publication dedicated to providing health professionals with the information they need to promote the quality and safety of health care. The Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety invites original manuscripts on the development, adaptation, and/or implementation of innovative thinking, strategies, and practices in improving quality and safety in health care. Case studies, program or project reports, reports of new methodologies or new applications of methodologies, research studies on the effectiveness of improvement interventions, and commentaries on issues and practices are all considered.

    Also known as Joint Commission Journal on Quality Improvement and Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Safety
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