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.
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.
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 (χ2 = 12.79, p < .001) and from 14% to 39% for night-to-day sign-out (χ2 = 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.
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.
Bernstein JA, Imler DL, Sharek P, Longhurst CA. Improved physician work flow after integrating sign-out notes into the electronic medical record. Jt Comm J Qual Patient Saf. 2010 Feb;36(2):72-78.