9.3 Resources to Facilitate Interprofessional Communication

Learning Objectives

  • Describe two evidence-based communication tools that can be used to facilitate effective interprofessional communication.
  • Explain why standardized communication tools are used among health care professionals.
  • Describe resources available to facilitate interprofessional communication.

There are numerous resources to facilitate interprofessional communication and collaboration.

Ideally, all healthcare professionals would speak up for the sake of patients, clearly state what they think is happening in a specific situation, and explain what and why they think certain actions should be taken (Lyndon et al., 2011). However, some healthcare professionals may struggle to voice their concerns and perspectives.  It is important for healthcare professionals to find their voice, speak up and share their opinions (Canadian Medical Protective Association, 2011). One objective of interprofessional communication tools is to provide structure and clarity to convey succinct, comprehensive, and relevant information to another healthcare professional to improve client care.

Several standardized (evidence-based) tools have been developed to facilitate interprofessional communication, support effective, timely collaboration within and across teams, prevent errors in the workplace and avoid potential miscommunication (Canadian Medical Protective Association, 2011).

ISBAR, is one standard communication tool that can facilitate effective verbal communication when communicating with another health care professional about a client or during handover. It provides a framework so that communication is focused, concise, and complete. This section will discuss a few communication tools that may be used in various health care environments to enhance communication and increase client outcomes.


ISBAR is an acronym for Introduction, Situation, Background, Assessment, and Recommendation (Shah, 2016). The military first introduced it in the United States to facilitate communication (NHS Improvement, n.d.) and has since been taken up in the healthcare arena to enhance client safety by facilitating clear and concise communication among healthcare professionals and ensuring the most essential information is included (NHS improvement, n.d.; Spooner et al., 2016). The components of ISBAR are shown in the table below. It is essential to reflect on how you communicate and how you can improve communication through the comprehensive use of such evidence-based tools.

Components of ISBAR


Information expected in the respective components

The sender (health care professional) states who they are and the client they discuss.

Situation The health care professional states what has happened, i.e. presenting the client’s chief complaints, symptoms, mechanism of the injury or change in client status.
Background The sender conveys other information related to the chief complaint, past medical history, medication history, and allergies.
Assessment The sender may provide details regarding the Glasgow Coma Scale (GCS), the latest vital signs, trends, and physical examination findings, a brief assessment of the overall client status, the most probable diagnosis, and what action and treatment have been provided so far.
Recommendations Based on their interaction with the client, the sender finally states their recommendations for immediate actions, mentions whether the client is time critical, and ensures the recipient reads back and understands the information conveyed.

Interprofessional communication is a fundamental component of interprofessional collaboration and optimizing client outcomes. Several factors influence interprofessional communication, including the physical environment, context, and communication styles. Respectful interprofessional communication and interaction are essential to safe and effective work environments, including healthcare settings. ISBAR is a commonly used tool that can facilitate effective communication with other health care professionals, but awareness of one’s communication style and values helps facilitate interprofessional communication. Using ISBAR effectively takes practice. The following video provides an example of what to consider when using ISBAR.

Watch: ISBAR Patient Safety

Other communication strategies with easy-to-remember acronyms are I Pass the Baton, and TeamSTEPPS:

I Pass the Baton

Introduction: Introduce yourself, your role and the client.

Patient/Client: Name, identifiers, age, sex, location.

Assessment: Present chief complaint, vital signs, symptoms and diagnosis.

Situation: Current status/circumstances, including code status, level of uncertainty, recent changes and response to treatment.

Safety: Critical lab values/reports, socioeconomic factors, allergies and alerts (falls, isolation, etcetera).


Background: Comorbidities, previous episodes, current medications, and family history.

Actions: Explain what actions were taken or are required. Provide rationale.

Timing: Level of urgency, timing, and prioritization of actions.

Ownership: Identify who is responsible (person/team), including the client’s family members.

Next: What will happen next? Anticipated changes? What is the plan? Are there contingency plans?

(Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, 2013).


Team Strategies and Tools to Enhance Performance and Patient Safety (TeamSTEPPS) is an evidence-based framework to enhance performance across healthcare teams and systems. It has five key principles: team structure and four teachable-learnable skills. The skills are communication, leadership, situation monitoring, and mutual support (Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, 2013).

Other Types of Resources

Additional resources used to facilitate interprofessional communication and collaboration include:

Simulation-based training: Simulation-based training involves scenarios to help healthcare professionals develop and practice communication and teamwork skills in a safe and controlled environment. This type of training allows healthcare professionals to learn from their mistakes and receive feedback from their peers and instructors.

Electronic Health Record (EHR) systems: EHR systems can facilitate interprofessional communication by giving healthcare professionals real-time access to patient information, allowing them to collaborate and make informed decisions about patient care.

Interprofessional rounds involve healthcare professionals from different disciplines coming together to discuss patient cases and make collaborative decisions about client care. These rounds can help improve communication and collaboration among healthcare professionals.

Professional development opportunities: Healthcare professionals can benefit from attending professional development opportunities, such as workshops, conferences, and seminars that focus on developing communication and collaboration skills.

Overall, effective interprofessional communication is essential in health care. Healthcare professionals can benefit from utilizing communication tools, participating in interprofessional education programs and simulation-based training, using electronic health record systems, engaging in interprofessional rounds, and attending professional development opportunities to facilitate communication and collaboration.

Activity: Check Your Understanding

Key Takeaways

  • Evidence-based communication tools such as ISBAR, I Pass The Baton, and TeamSTEPPS can be used to facilitate interprofessional communication.
  • Awareness of one’s communication styles and values helps facilitate interprofessional communication.
  • Utilizing additional resources such as communication tools, participating in interprofessiona education programs and simulation-based training, using electronic health record systems, engaging in interprofessional rounds, and attending professional development facilitates interprofessional communication and collaboration.


Complete an SBAR using the following scenario:

Zina Mills, a 75-year-old female admitted five days ago for a hip fracture. She had surgery three days ago. The incision is clean and intact. Physio has been attempting to get her out of bed and mobile. Her mobility is limited due to dementia. Her appetite has been poor, with an intake of solid food at less than 50% at each meal and fluid intake is 600 ml/24 hours. She has a history of hypertension. She has been experiencing shortness of breath with a productive cough and green mucous for the past 24 hours. Her vital signs are: 0 sat is 90% with 4L oxygen via nasal prongs, respiratory rate is 26, temperature is 38.3, pulse 98, blood pressure 134/88.


Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. (2013). Pocket guide: TeamSTEPPShttps://www.ahrq.gov/teamstepps/instructor/essentials/pocketguide.html

Canadian Medical Protective Association. (2011). Strengthening inter-professional communication. https://www.cmpa-acpm.ca/en/advice-publications/browse-articles/2011/strengthening-inter-professional-communication

Lyndon, A., Zlatnik, M. G., & Wachter, R. M. (2011). Effective physician-nurse communication: A patient safety essential for labor and delivery. American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, 205(2), 91–96. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ajog.2011.04.021

NHS Improvement. (n.d.). SBAR communication tool – situation, background, assessment, recommendation. NHS England. https://www.england.nhs.uk/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/qsir-sbar-communication-tool.pdf

Shah, Y. (2016). Clinical handover between paramedics and emergency department staff: SBAR and IMIST-AMBO acronyms. International Paramedic Practice. https://www.internationaljpp.com/features/article/clinical-handover-between-paramedics-and-emergency-department-staff-sbar-and-imist-ambo-acronyms

Spooner, A., Aitken, L., Corley, A., Fraser, J., & Chaboyer, W. (2016). Nursing team leader handover in the intensive care unit contains diverse and inconsistent content: An observational study. International Journal of Nursing Studies, 61, 165–172. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijnurstu.2016.05.006

Media Attribution

Beer, J. (2015, January 15). ISBAR patient safety [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h0Ol6CiJAZw

Attribution Statement

Content adapted, with editorial changes, from:​

Lapum, J., St.-Amant, O., Hughes, M., Garmaise-Yee, J.,  & Lee, C. (2020). Professional communication in health professions [Adapted]. Toronto Metropolitan University Pressbooks. https://pressbooks.nscc.ca/healthcommunication/

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Professional Communication Skills for Health Studies Copyright © 2023 by Chute, A., Johnston, S., & Pawliuk, B. is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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