BMJ Qual Saf 21:i114-i120 doi:10.1136/bmjqs-2012-001176
  • Original research

The Handover Toolbox: a knowledge exchange and training platform for improving patient care

Open Access
  1. Paul Barach2,3,4
  1. 1Centre for Learning Sciences and Technologies, Open University of the Netherlands, Heerlen, Limburg, The Netherlands
  2. 2Utrecht Medical Centre, Utrecht, The Netherlands
  3. 3University of Stavanger, Stavanger, Norway
  4. 4University College Cork, Ireland
  1. Correspondence to Dr Hendrik Drachsler, Open University, Centre for Learning Sciences and Technologies, Valkenburgerweg 177, Heerlen, Limburg 6419 AT, The Netherlands; Hendrik.Drachsler{at}
  • Accepted 27 September 2012


Background Safe and effective patient handovers remain a global organisational and training challenge. Limited evidence supports available handover training programmes. Customisable training is a promising approach to improve the quality and sustainability of handover training and outcomes.

Objective We present a Handover Toolbox designed in the context of the European HANDOVER Project. The Toolbox aims to support physicians, nurses, individuals in health professions training, medical educators and handover experts by providing customised handover training tools for different clinical needs and contexts.

Methods The Handover Toolbox uses the Technology Enhanced Learning Design Process (TEL-DP), which encompasses user requirements analysis; writing personas; group concept mapping; analysis of suitable software; plus, minus, interesting rating; and usability testing. TEL-DP is aligned with participatory design approaches and ensures development occurs in close collaboration with, and engagement of, key stakeholders.

Results Application of TEL-DP confirmed that the ideal formats of handover training differs for practicing professionals versus individuals in health profession education programmes. Training experts from different countries differed in their views on the optimal content and delivery of training. Analysis of suitable software identified ready-to-use systems that provide required functionalities and can be further customised to users’ needs. Interest rating and usability testing resulted in improved usability, navigation and uptake of the Handover Toolbox.

Conclusions The design of the Handover Toolbox was based on a carefully led stakeholder participatory design using the TEL-DP approach. The Toolbox supports a customisable learning approach that allows trainers to design training that addresses the specific information needs of the various target groups. We offer recommendations regarding the application of the Handover Toolbox to medical educators.

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