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Using a Process Map to Improve Handover

September 14, 2013

Dr. Paul Barach holds academic appointments at universities in both the United States and in Europe. In addition, he consults with hospitals and health-care agencies on quality improvement, strategic planning and patient safety measures. Dr. Paul Barach just completed leading the HANDOVER project, a project oriented toward decreasing patient readmissions, unnecessary medical errors and inefficiency due to poor communication during the transition from inpatient to outpatient care.

An important step in the process of improving handover communication is to understand the patient journey through the health-care system. To do this, the researchers at HANDOVER used focus-group interviews and process mapping at several hospitals located in the United States and Europe. Through this process, they were able not only to identify best practices, but also to stimulate discussion about the procedures that could be improved.

Process mapping is a particularly useful tool in that it requires clinicians to reflect on their work and become more aware of the complex underpinnings of their patients’ experience in the health-care system. Making the process more explicit helps to identify inefficiencies or redundancies in the system and clarify ambiguities in team-member responsibilities so that the transition from inpatient to outpatient settings can be improved.

For a more detailed discussion on HANDOVER project, see, and to review process mapping and the results of this exercise at various hospitals, Dr. Barach’s coauthored paper “Searching for the Missing Pieces between the Hospital and Primary Care: Mapping the Patient Process during Care Transitions” is published in the journal BMJ Quality Safety.

From → Patient Safety

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