Electronic Sign Out is Better for Clinics, Practitioner, and Patients

Is Your Clinic Missing Out on All the Benefits of Electronic Sign-Out?

Electronic sign-out has been available in one form on another for more than 10 years. However, many clinics have been slow to adopt or fully implement electronic sign-out into their workflow. However, the research is clear—electronic sign-out is better for clinics, patients, and providers. If your clinic has not fully incorporated electronic sign-out into your clinic’s workflow, you are missing out on several key benefits.

Problems With Verbal and Paper Sign-Out

Improper sign out procedures are a significant contributor to medical errors. When a verbal or handwritten sign-out process is used it introduces many opportunities for communication errors to negatively affect the care patients receive.

A verbal sign-out is the easiest way to communicate information between care providers. However, on-the-fly hallway conversations often get interrupted. These interruptions increase the chance of communication gaps. Verbal sign-outs rely too much on mental recall. If one provider forgets to relay important information or a care provider forgets to incorporate key information into the care plan, it can result in major harm to the patient. There can also be an accountability problem when having to rely on strictly verbal communication.

The natural reaction to dealing with verbal sign-out issues is to use a written sign-out policy. However, using a written sign-out system has its own negative consequences. When sign-outs are hand written in a clinical setting, problems with legibility and completeness of the updates are an issue. While most personnel are careful with HIPPA documents, such as a written sign-out, introducing another piece of paper can increase the chances of something getting lost or filed incorrectly. Then there is no back-up for the sign-out.

One problem that plagues both verbal and most written sign-out procedures is the lack of a unified standard. Every caregiver has his or her own style and practice. Lack of uniformity in the information communicated during sign-out creates communication gaps.

Why Electronic Sign-Out is Better for Patients

The best method for patient outcomes is an electronic sign-out. An electronic sign-out system has several natural advantages over other sign-out methods:

- Uniformity of information
- Clear instructions
- Ability to refer back to instructions
- Ease of HIPPA compliance
- Improves caregiver accountability
- Eliminates most communication gaps

Each of these advantages reduces the chances of a medical error. Patients are less likely to be subject to missed or duplicated tests and procedures. The nurses and doctors caring for them are better informed about their exact status. Patients also are much less likely to have major issues such as infections or allergic reactions go undetected.

Benefits of Electronic Sign-Out to Clinics and Practitioners

Electronic sign-out also is better for clinics and practitioners. Electronic sign-out helps everyone do his or her job better.

Doctors and nurses can easily see all the most up to date information for all of the patients under their care. When using the right electronic check out system every piece of patient information is also readily available. At a glance a practitioner can see all of the diagnostic codes, allergy information, medication status, and other key information for a patient. There is no need to flip through a chart or to hunt for information.

Easy access to better quality information leads to fewer medical errors. This leads to better patient outcomes and lower medical malpractice rates