Table 1

Optimal handover features and corresponding MGH implementation tactics

Achieving optimal handoversMGH implementation tactics
Senior leadership supportAll hospital administrative and clinical leadership engaged, and actively and publicly supported implementation
Formal education and training for all care providersFunction and venue-specific, multimodality training programme developed for all direct caregivers, departments and units
Make evidence-based case for handover improvementAll training sessions and presentations begin with discussion of current handover deficiencies and their consequences
Handover recognised as transfer of patient information and responsibilityTraining programme explicitly discusses handovers as transfer of patient responsibility, not just information
Cultural expectation of concise, complete, accurate handoversStrategic goal is to advance MGH safety culture, creating an expectation for optimal, structured handovers
Complete critical diagnostic (test results) and treatment activities before handovers; adequate handover time, quiet space, ‘sterile cockpit’ with limited interruptionsTraining programme emphasises handover context—critical test results and other tasks completed, appropriate time and space, limited interruptions
Concomitant team training, such as TeamSTEPPS and Crew Resource ManagementTraining programme includes introduction to TeamSTEPPS
Standardised content, structure, sequence (facilitate with mnemonics)Standardised I-PASS structure is simple, intuitive, easy to remember and use
Adapt to local workflowsBasic I-PASS handover structure and content adapted to specific services, units and workflows; suggestions elicited from front-line staff, including residents
Direct, interactive, face-to-face communication with opportunity for questionsTraining programme emphasises in-person verbal handovers with interactive dialogue whenever possible
Written or electronic handover document supplements verbal communication; integration with IT systems (including templates and prompts); facilitates but does not replace face-to-face communicationI-PASS implementation overlapped with installation of new EHR, which was modified to include I-PASS formatted handover templates with some autopopulation functionality
Explicit contingency planning for active and anticipated problemsSituational awareness and contingency planning are the fourth element of an I-PASS handover
Verification—‘readback’ or ‘checkback’Synthesis (read back and interactive discussion) is fifth element of I-PASS handover
ObservationsObservations strongly encouraged for each department; results recorded, tabulated; transparent feedback provided
Assess outcomesKirkpatrick51 training effectiveness levels 1–3 evaluated, level 4 pending
  • MGH, Massachusetts General Hospital.