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A Model for Electronic Handoff Between the Emergency Department and Inpatient Units.

BACKGROUND: Patient handoffs between units can introduce risk and time delays. Verbal communication is the most common mode of handoff, but requires coordination between different parties.

OBJECTIVE: We present an asynchronous patient handoff process supported by a structured electronic signout for admissions from the emergency department (ED) to the inpatient medicine service.

METHODS: A retrospective review of patients admitted to the medical service from July 1, 2011 to June 30, 2015 at a tertiary referral center with 520 inpatient beds and 57,000 ED visits annually. We developed a model for structured electronic, asynchronous signout that includes an option to request verbal communication after review of the electronic handoff information.

RESULTS: During the 2010 academic year (AY) all admissions used verbal communication for signout. The following academic year, electronic signout was implemented and 77.5% of admissions were accepted with electronic signout. The rate increased to 87.3% by AY 2014. The rate of transfer from floor to an intensive care unit within 24 h for the year before and 4 years after implementation of the electronic signout system was collected and calculated with 95% confidence interval. There was no statistically significant difference between the year prior and the years after the implementation.

CONCLUSIONS: Our handoff model sought to maximize the opportunity for asynchronous signout while still providing the opportunity for verbal signout when deemed necessary. The process was rapidly adopted with the majority of patients being accepted electronically.

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