E-Mail Enhances Communication With and Access to Pediatrician for Patients and Families

This featured profile is available on the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality’s Health
Care Innovations Exchange Web site. A pediatric subspecialist offered the families of his
patients the opportunity to contact him via e-mail, with formal guidelines established with
respect to the appropriate use of the system (e.g., content, length, response time). More than 90
percent of families offered the service enrolled, with approximately 40 percent using the service
during a 2-year period. Families using the service reported enhanced communication with and
access to the pediatrician. The physician found that use of the e-mail service saved him time
versus answering the same inquiries via telephone. In addition, over time, the program has
engaged more teenagers to contact the doctor directly using electronic communication.

SBAR Technique for Communication: A Situational Briefing Model

The SBAR (Situation-Background-Assessment-Recommendation) technique provides a
framework for communication between members of the health care team about a patient’s
condition. This downloadable tool from the Institute for Healthcare Improvement contains two
• “Guidelines for Communicating With Physicians Using the SBAR Process” explains how
to carry out the SBAR technique.
• “SBAR Report to Physician About a Critical Situation” is a worksheet/script that a
provider can use to organize information in preparing to communicate with a physician
about a critically ill patient.

Rapid Response Team Record with SBAR

Both the primary nurse for the patient and the Rapid Response Team nurse have responsibility
for completing the form when a Rapid Response Team call is initiated. The form then becomes a
permanent part of the patient’s medical record. The Rapid Response Team record includes
approved protocol orders that may be initiated by the Rapid Response Team nurse.
The SBAR (Situation-Background-Assessment-Recommendation) tool is printed on the back of
the form and is used as a guide for the primary nurse when calling the physician to ensure that
concise, pertinent information is reported.


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