Towards an understanding of the information dynamics of the handover process in aged care settings-A prerequisite for the safe and effective use of ICT

Svend Lyhne, Andrew Georgiou*, Anne Marks, Amina Tariq, Johanna I. Westbrook

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

23 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Poor clinical handover has been associated with inaccurate clinical assessment and diagnosis, delays in diagnosis and test ordering, medication errors and decreased patient satisfaction in the acute care setting. Research on the handover process in the residential aged care sector is very limited. Purpose: The aims of this study were to: (i) Develop an in-depth understanding of the handover process in aged care by mapping all the key activities and their information dynamics, (ii) Identify gaps in information exchange in the handover process and analyze implications for resident safety, (iii) Develop practical recommendations on how information communication technology (ICT) can improve the process and resident safety. Methods: The study was undertaken at a large metropolitan facility in NSW with more than 300 residents and a staff including 55 registered nurses (RNs) and 146 assistants in nursing (AINs). A total of 3 focus groups, 12 interviews and 3 observation sessions were conducted over a period from July to October 2010. Process mapping was undertaken by translating the qualitative data via a five-category code book that was developed prior to the analysis. Results: Three major sub-processes were identified and mapped. The three major stages are Handover process (HOP) I "Information gathering by RN", HOP II "Preparation of preliminary handover sheet" and HOP III "Execution of handover meeting" Inefficient processes were identified in relation to the handover including duplication of information, utilization of multiple communication modes and information sources, and lack of standardization. Conclusion: By providing a robust process model of handover this study has made two critical contributions to research in aged care: (i) a means to identify important, possibly suboptimal practices; and (ii) valuable evidence to plan and improve ICT implementation in residential aged care. The mapping of this process enabled analysis of gaps in information flow and potential impacts on resident safety. In addition it offers the basis for further studies into a process that, despite its importance for securing resident safety and continuity of care, lacks research.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)452-460
Number of pages9
JournalInternational Journal of Medical Informatics
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2012
Externally publishedYes

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