Warm Handoff: Intervention

Patient and Family Engagement in Primary Care

A warm handoff is a transfer of care between two members of the health care team, where the handoff occurs in front of the patient and family. This transparent handoff of care allows patients and families to hear what is said and engages patients and families in communication, giving them the opportunity to clarify or correct information or ask questions about their care.

Getting Started With Warm Handoff

Warm Handoff Implementation Quick Start Guide: The Quick Start Guide provides clinicians and practice staff with five simple steps for implementing the warm handoff strategy in the office setting. It is available in two sizes for printing – a full-page format or a half-page brochure:

Materials To Support Implementation

For Patients and Families

Material Uses Description

A Patient’s Guide to Warm Handoffs [PDF, 339 KB]

  • Inform the patient and family about the warm handoff strategy.
  • Encourage participation.

Poster, flyer, or handout that explains the purpose of the warm handoff, the warm handoff process, and the role of the patient and family in the warm handoff process.

For Practice Staff and Clinicians

Material Uses Description

Design Guide for Implementing Warm Handoffs [PDF, 154 KB]

Help practices adopt warm handoffs as the standard in the practice.

Implementation guidance that can be used to help practices develop the processes and procedures needed to adopt warm handoffs.

For Clinicians

Material Uses Description

Warm Handoffs: A Guide for Clinicians [PDF, 129 KB]

Inform clinicians about warm handoffs.

Handout that defines a warm handoff and explains how to do a warm handoff and why it is important.

For Practice Staff

Material Uses Description

Warm Handoffs: A Guide for Staff [PDF, 134 KB]

Inform practice staff about warm handoffs.

Handout that defines a warm handoff and explains how to do a warm handoff and why it is important.

Assist practice staff in conducting a warm handoff to the clinician after rooming a patient.

Brief checklist that can be used as a communication tool when conducting a warm handoff to the clinician. It is meant to be used as a job aid by staff who are already familiar with the process. This aid may be customized for practice-specific needs.

Materials for Teaching and Learning

  • Warm Handoff Video

    The Warm Handoff video explains the warm handoff technique. It explains the process and benefits of a warm handoff and demonstrates exemplar warm handoffs in the primary care setting. The video can be used during a staff meeting or morning huddle as a demonstration or a reminder of how to work with patients to improve communication during a transfer.

  • Webinar - The Warm Handoff Strategy
    • Speakers: Kelly M. Smith, Ph.D.
    • Date: April 19, 2017

Additional AHRQ Materials – Warm Handoff

Page last reviewed December 2017
Page originally created April 2017
Internet Citation: Warm Handoff: Intervention. Content last reviewed December 2017. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD. https://www.ahrq.gov/professionals/quality-patient-safety/patient-family-engagement/pfeprimarycare/interventions/warmhandoff.html
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