A New Tool to Assess Clinician Experience With Patient Care Transitions

Qual Manag Health Care. 2021 Apr-Jun;30(2):87-96. doi: 10.1097/QMH.0000000000000290.


Background and objectives: Clinician experience of intrahospital patient care transfers can drive transfer success and safe patient care. Measuring clinician experience can provide insights into opportunities to improve transfer processes that impact patient care. As part of a quality improvement project, we developed a brief survey to gauge clinician experience with patient care transfers that occur within a hospital.

Methods: The survey framework was built upon a previously identified taxonomy of intrahospital transfers that includes categories of transfer activities: disposition, notification, preparation, communication, and coordination. The survey tool was administered twice to physicians, nurses, and other health professionals across a single hospital. Data were analyzed comparing providers sending patients, and those receiving patients.

Results: The survey response rate was 33% to 34% across both years. While helpful in demonstrating improving trends in provider experience and engagement with transfer processes, the survey also allowed for differences between the experiences of sending and receiving providers to be revealed. Nurses reported improved preparedness to receive patients and receivers overall reported improved teamwork. Senders' perceptions showed improved trends in all transfer categories. Preliminary data also suggest acceptable reliability across respondent type, item category, and time. Specifically, reliability across sending and receiving clinicians was demonstrated in the categories of timeliness (α = 0.85) and culture (α = 0.72). Responses of sending clinicians were internally consistent within culture (α = 0.82), while responses of receiving clinicians were internally consistent within culture (α = 0.86), timeliness (α = 0.76), notification (α = 0.77), communication (α = 0.73), and teamwork (α = 0.73).

Conclusions: Overall, the survey was feasible to implement and built to optimize content, construct, and response process validity. Survey results drove practical improvement work, such as informing a verbal transfer protocol to improve nursing preparedness to receive patients on general medicine units. As a practical tool, the survey and its results can help hospital administrators to focus on categories of transfer activities that are most problematic for clinicians and to track trends for quality improvement.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Communication*
  • Health Personnel
  • Hospitals
  • Humans
  • Patient Transfer*
  • Reproducibility of Results