The how-to of handovers
OT asks experts for their tips on how locum optometrists can provide comprehensive and streamlined patient handovers
14 April 2023
We often hear about the importance of first impressions – the value of a firm handshake and warm smile.
A smooth handover builds trust in the practice, while a disjointed handover can undermine the patient experience or even compromise clinical care.
Optometrist Sarah Morgan shared with OT that patients provide locum optometrists with a lot of information about their needs during a consultation.
“A good handover is really essential to ensure full satisfaction with the final outcome of their visit,” she emphasised.
She added that flaws in the patient handover can risk a patient feeling disconnected from the next steps in their care and potentially losing confidence in the staff involved.
Because locum optometrists may not be working at a practice for some time, Morgan highlighted that it is particularly important to have a discussion with the patient and one or even two members of staff about their care.
“Share the list of advice, recommendations and actions required following the eye examination,” she said.
Morgan noted that a common mistake made during handovers is to either explain what the patient needs away from the patient, or to have the discussion in front of the patient but using jargon that they do not understand.
Optometrist Farah Awan observed that smooth handovers bridge the gap between the patient, the clinician and other staff members.
Five tips for a successful handover
Optometrist, Sarah Morgan, shares her guidance for ensuring a smooth patient journey
- Introduce the patient by name to the member of staff who will be taking care of them next, and introduce the member of staff by name
- Where possible, conduct the handover in the privacy of the consulting room so that any pertinent clinical information can be shared
- Provide a brief introduction about the patient eg why they came, any relevant information such as if they are a driver or the type of work that the patient does
- Always explain what the patient needs and why in patient-friendly terms, so the patient is hearing the advice a second time
- Use the patient’s name again and that of the member of staff receiving the patient and include some details about the staff member’s expertise and why the patient will experience good care from them.
Awan emphasised that it is important to be clear and concise when performing a patient handover.
“What is paramount is patient safety. We do not want to put the patient at risk in any way shape or form,” she said.
“You need to reiterate to the patient and to the member of staff who you are handing over to the actions that need to be taken. That creates patient awareness and makes for a better patient journey,” Awan explained.
When Awan first arrives at a practice, she identifies which member of staff she will be handing patients over to.
She gets to know that team member and their areas of expertise so that the patient can be managed in the best and safest way.
“I find out the handover protocols and familiarise myself with how the practice works,” Awan shared.
Before progressing to the handover, Awan recommends summarising the eye examination and the next steps with the patient.
“Make sure that the patient is on board with all the information that was conveyed and you have their consent to proceed to the next part of the journey,” she said.
Considering contact lenses
As part of becoming familiar with a practice, Awan recommends getting to know which contact lenses are available to use.
Knowing who performs insertion, application and removal training is helpful, as well as being aware of when this training is offered – for example, does a separate appointment need to be booked or is it offered directly after a consultation?
“Once I have identified that, it puts me in a better place during the consultation. It makes the patient journey smoother if I know what happens in the practice with contact lenses,” she highlighted.
Awan finds out where the contact lenses and solution are stored within the practice, and whether any deals are being offered by the practice that may benefit the patient.
A good handover is really essential to ensure full satisfaction
Head of clinical and regulatory at the AOP, Henry Leonard, gives his tips for locums arranging follow-up appointments
It’s not always possible to decide how patients should be managed, following their initial examination. Sometimes a further appointment is necessary so procedures such as cycloplegic refraction, dilation or repeat fields can be carried out, and it’s important for practices and practitioners to have robust systems in place to ensure these patients are followed-up appropriately. This is a particular challenge for locum optometrists, who may not know if or when they will be returning to the practice.
The AOP has developed an internal referral template, which members can use to transfer responsibility for managing these patients to another practitioner, and to ensure these patients are followed up appropriately. The internal referral should clearly record which procedures are required, and whether an appointment has been arranged. AOP members can also use the online AOP locum logbook to keep their own record of internal referrals.