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Hand Off Communication: Don't Drop The Ball

This online course is designed for all hospital staff to improve communication skills between personnel working in the same departments, ancillary departments, throughout the facility, between facilities, and with external agencies. The course incorporates aspects of proper communication skills from the TeamSTEPPS program developed by the Department of Defense’s Patient Safety Program in collaboration with the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ).

Learning objectives

Upon completion of this course, the participant will:

  • Recognize the importance of communication and teamwork in preventing errors
  • Recall teamwork and communication strategies
  • Recognize improper communication between healthcare staff
  • Identify techniques to improve communication skills
  • Implement techniques to enhance communication skills in the workplace

Expected outcomes

Upon completion of this course the participant will incorporate proper techniques to enhance communication skills in the workplace. This will be achieved through understanding the concepts of situation awareness, situation monitoring, and shared mental models. Integration of elements such as call out, check back, SBAR, and shared mental model are paramount in acquiring more effective communication skills which will ultimately improve patient safety.

Content format

(5 minutes) Presentation of communication didactic content via PowerPoint to include the following concepts:

  • Situation Monitoring – Knowing your environment and being aware of what is happening
  • Situation Awareness – Paying attention to details
  • SBAR – Elements of effective hand-off communication
  • Shared Mental Model – Team awareness of the patient’s plan of care and potential risks of plan deviations

(5 minutes) Four video previews will be accessed along with a brief survey for each video. The videos reflect errors in communication with regards to situation awareness, situation monitoring, SBAR, and shared mental model.

(5 minutes) Four video previews demonstrating techniques to enhance communication skills will be accessed.

(1 minute) Post-course evaluation to determine ease of online use, clarity of information, quality of videos and information, transferability of course content, personal value of course.


  • All AHN medical, nursing, allied health, and patient support staff.

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