A randomized, controlled trial evaluating the impact of a computerized rounding and sign-out system on continuity of care and resident work hours

J Am Coll Surg. 2005 Apr;200(4):538-45. doi: 10.1016/j.jamcollsurg.2004.11.009.


Background: Adoption of limits on resident work hours prompted us to develop a centralized, Web-based computerized rounding and sign-out system (UWCores) that securely stores sign-out information; automatically downloads patient data (vital signs, laboratories); and prints them to rounding, sign-out, and progress note templates. We tested the hypothesis that this tool would positively impact continuity of care and resident workflow by improving team communication involving patient handovers and streamlining inefficiencies, such as hand-copying patient data during work before rounds ("prerounds").

Study design: Fourteen inpatient resident teams (6 general surgery, 8 internal medicine) at two teaching hospitals participated in a 5-month, prospective, randomized, crossover study. Data collected included number of patients missed on resident rounds, subjective continuity of care quality and workflow efficiency with and without UWCores, and daily self-reported prerounding and rounding times and tasks.

Results: UWCores halved the number of patients missed on resident rounds (2.5 versus 5 patients/team/month, p = 0.0001); residents spent 40% more of their prerounds time seeing patients (p = 0.36); residents reported better sign-out quality (69.6% agree or strongly agree); and improved continuity of care (66.1% agree or strongly agree). UWCores halved the portion of prerounding time spent hand-copying basic data (p < 0.0001); it shortened team rounds by 1.5 minutes/patient (p = 0.0006); and residents reported finishing their work sooner using UWCores (82.1% agree or strongly agree).

Conclusions: This system enhances patient care by decreasing patients missed on resident rounds and improving resident-reported quality of sign-out and continuity of care. It decreases by up to 3 hours per week (range 1.5 to 3) the time used by residents to complete rounds; it diverts prerounding time from recopying data to more productive tasks; and it facilitates meeting the 80-hour work week requirement by helping residents finish their work sooner.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Continuity of Patient Care / organization & administration*
  • Cross-Over Studies
  • Efficiency, Organizational
  • General Surgery / education
  • General Surgery / organization & administration
  • Humans
  • Internal Medicine / education
  • Internal Medicine / organization & administration
  • Internship and Residency / organization & administration*
  • Medical Records Systems, Computerized / organization & administration*
  • Patient Care / methods
  • Prospective Studies
  • Workload*