At the Society of Hospital Medicine 2007 Annual Meeting, 300 attendees attended a workshop where the Society of Hospital Medicine’s “Handoff Task Force” presented its draft recommendations for handoffs, with goal of that the final recommendations would be applicable in both community and academic settings. Participants had the opportunity to provide additional ideas for the recommendations (anonymously through submission of index cards), and were asked to cast up to 3 votes for recommendations that should be removed from the presented draft. The final recommendations were published in the Journal of Hospital Medicine (2009 September ; 4(7): 433–440).

The final published report of the Handoff Task Force noted the following:

“One of the proposed recommendations at the the Annual Meeting was to institute feedback for poor sign-outs, but this was not added to the final recommendations after discussion at the meeting and with content experts about the difficulty of maintaining anonymity in small hospitalist groups. Nevertheless, this should not preclude informal feedback among practitioners.”

Does this recommendation fall short? Given the inherent relationship of patient quality and safety to transitions in care, it seems critical for hospitalists to embrace constructive feedback about their own handoffs. Morning handoffs as well as off-service hand-offs are ripe aspects of hospitalist performance for annual evaluations, OPPE, and hospitalist would surely want to know when they fall short with internal transitions in the care of their patients. Innovative technology, such as OnServiceMD, automates evaluation of the quality of hand-offs, seamlessly provides reminders to hospitalists as convenient times to complete evaluations of the handoffs that they received, and automatically preservers anonymity through time-delayed reporting and by uncoupling feedback from any specific handoff. In this manner, hospitalists are provided with a safe environment to evaluation each other’s hand-offs, and ultimately will benefit from this important source of feedback as clinicians.