Assessing the Effectiveness of Engaging Patients and Their Families in the Three-Step Fall Prevention Process Across Modalities of an Evidence-Based Fall Prevention Toolkit: An Implementation Science Study

J Med Internet Res. 2019 Jan 21;21(1):e10008. doi: 10.2196/10008.


Background: Patient falls are a major problem in hospitals. The development of a Patient-Centered Fall Prevention Toolkit, Fall TIPS (Tailoring Interventions for Patient Safety), reduced falls by 25% in acute care hospitals by leveraging health information technology to complete the 3-step fall prevention process-(1) conduct fall risk assessments; (2) develop tailored fall prevention plans with the evidence-based interventions; and (3) consistently implement the plan. We learned that Fall TIPS was most effective when patients and family were engaged in all 3 steps of the fall prevention process. Over the past decade, our team developed 3 Fall TIPS modalities-the original electronic health record (EHR) version, a laminated paper version that uses color to provide clinical decision support linking patient-specific risk factors to the interventions, and a bedside display version that automatically populates the bedside monitor with the patients' fall prevention plan based on the clinical documentation in the EHR. However, the relative effectiveness of each Fall TIPS modality for engaging patients and family in the 3-step fall prevention process remains unknown.

Objective: This study aims to examine if the Fall TIPS modality impacts patient engagement in the 3-step fall prevention process and thus Fall TIPS efficacy.

Methods: To assess patient engagement in the 3-step fall prevention process, we conducted random audits with the question, "Does the patient/family member know their fall prevention plan?" In addition, audits were conducted to measure adherence, defined by the presence of the Fall TIPS poster at the bedside. Champions from 3 hospitals reported data from April to June 2017 on 6 neurology and 7 medical units. Peer-to-peer feedback to reiterate the best practice for patient engagement was central to data collection.

Results: Overall, 1209 audits were submitted for the patient engagement measure and 1401 for the presence of the Fall TIPS poster at the bedside. All units reached 80% adherence for both measures. While some units maintained high levels of patient engagement and adherence with the poster protocol, others showed improvement over time, reaching clinically significant adherence (>80%) by the final month of data collection.

Conclusions: Each Fall TIPS modality effectively facilitates patient engagement in the 3-step fall prevention process, suggesting all 3 can be used to integrate evidence-based fall prevention practices into the clinical workflow. The 3 Fall TIPS modalities may prove an effective strategy for the spread, allowing diverse institutions to choose the modality that fits with the organizational culture and health information technology infrastructure.

Keywords: clinical decision support; fall prevention; fall prevention toolkit; health information technology; implementation science; patient safety.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Accidental Falls / prevention & control*
  • Humans
  • Implementation Science*
  • Medical Informatics / methods*
  • Patient Participation / methods*