Guide to Improving Patient Safety in Primary Care Settings by Engaging Patients and Families
Warm Handoff Plus
“Sometimes during a warm handoff thing will come up where the provider will say something and then all of a sudden, the patient says, ‘Well, no, it is really, …’ It makes it a lot easier in that you don’t have to re-hash and ask all the same questions to the patient. You can ask more specific questions.”
What Is a Warm Handoff Plus?
A Warm Handoff Plus is a handoff conducted in person, between two members of the healthcare team, in front of the patient (and family if present). It includes the patient as a team member so that he or she can hear what is being discussed about the clinical problem, current status, and plan of care.
The emphasis of the Warm Handoff Plus is specifically on engaging the patient and family in the handoff within the primary care practice. A Warm Handoff Plus can occur between any two members of the healthcare team, including clinicians, medical assistants, front and back office staff, and members of the extended care team, such as pharmacist, diabetes nurse educator, or social worker.
Why Use a Warm Handoff Plus?
A Warm Handoff Plus engages the patient and is a safety check. Communication breakdowns within the health care team or between the team and the patient or family can result in medical errors.
Research demonstrates that reliable and effective communication is essential for patient safety and improved clinical outcomes. In addition, collaborative communication (promoted by the Warm Handoff Plus) helps to build trust and strengthen relationships, resulting in improved communication, patient outcomes, and patient and clinician satisfaction.
How Do We Implement a Warm Handoff Plus?
When implementing a Warm Handoff Plus, start small. Try it with one or two within-practice transitions to start, or alternatively, try it with the first and last patients of each day. Detailed implementation Guidance for the Warm Handoff Plus is provided below.
Materials for Warm Handoff Plus
To get started, first download and review these documents:
- Warm Handoff Plus Implementation Quick Start Guide [PDF, 170.9 KB]
- Detailed Implementation Guidance—Full Guiide, Appendix D [PDF, 473.2 KB]
- Design Guide for Warm Handoff Plus [PDF, 183.7 KB]
Next, download and review the following documents:
You may also want to download and use the Training Toolkit. This Toolkit should be customized for your practice based on your planned implementation.
- Warm Handoff Plus Training Toolkit: