Use of Structured Rounding Tools to Improve Patient Care and Communication

HealthDay — The use of structured rounding tools improves time allocation per patient and communication breakdowns during handoffs in multidisciplinary rounds, according to a study published recently in JMIR Human Factors.

Joanna Abraham, PhD, from the University of Illinois at Chicago, and colleagues used audio recordings conducted during rounds (82 patients) to compare time allocation and communication breakdowns between two rounding tools: problem-based Subjective, Objective, Assessment, and Plan (SOAP) and the system-based Handoff Intervention Tool (HAND-IT).

The researchers found no significant linear dependence of the order of patient presentation on the time spent or on communication breakdowns for both structured tools. For the problem-based tool (SOAP), there was a significant linear relationship between the time spent discussing a patient and the number of communication breakdowns (P <.05). On average, there were an additional 1.04 breakdowns with every 120 seconds in discussion.

“This study shows that the use of structured rounding tools mitigates disproportionate time allocation and communication breakdowns during rounds. With the more structured HAND-IT tool, these effects were almost completely eliminated,” Dr Abraham said in a statement. “Our results help to demonstrate the benefits of using structured rounding tools for reducing communication errors and improving patient care quality and safety. Although our results are preliminary, they present a strong case for further research into rounding communication.”

Full Text


Abraham J, Kannampallil TG, Patel VL, Patel B, Almoosa K. Impact of structured rounding tools on time allocation during multidisciplinary rounds:  an observational study.  JMIR Hum Factors. 2016;3(2):e29. doi: 10.2196/humanfactors.6642