Implementation and evaluation of health passport communication tools in emergency departments

Res Dev Disabil. 2018 Jan;72:23-32. doi: 10.1016/j.ridd.2017.10.010. Epub 2017 Nov 5.


Background: People with IDD (intellectual or developmental disabilities) and their families consistently report dissatisfaction with their emergency department experience. Clear care plans and communication tools may not only improve the quality of patient care, but also can prevent unnecessary visits and reduce the likelihood of return visits.

Aims: To evaluate communication tools to be used by people with IDD in psychiatric and general emergency departments in three different regions of Ontario.

Methods and procedures: Health passport communication tools were locally tailored and implemented in each of the three regions. A total of 28 questionnaires and 18 interviews with stakeholders (e.g., hospital staff, community agency representatives, families) were completed across the regions to obtain feedback on the implementation of health passports with people with IDD.

Outcomes and results: Participants felt that the health passport tools provided helpful information, improved communication between patients with IDD and hospital staff, and were user friendly. Continued efforts are needed to work with communities on maintenance of this tool, ensuring all hospital staff are utilizing the information.

Conclusions and implications: These findings emphasize the merits of health passport tools being implemented in the health system to support communication between patients with IDD and health care practitioners and the importance of tailoring tools to local settings.

Keywords: Developmental/intellectual disabilities; Emergency department; Health passports; Hospital care; Improving communication; Patient information; Person-centered care.

MeSH terms

  • Communication Barriers
  • Communication*
  • Developmental Disabilities* / psychology
  • Developmental Disabilities* / therapy
  • Emergency Service, Hospital / organization & administration
  • Humans
  • Intellectual Disability* / psychology
  • Intellectual Disability* / therapy
  • Patient Care Management / methods
  • Patient Care Management / standards
  • Professional-Patient Relations*
  • Quality Improvement
  • Surveys and Questionnaires