Thanks for visiting!

Sign up to receive our free weekly enewsletter, and gain access all our FREE articles, tools, and resources.

banner
HCPro

Could you explain the tracer process and its applications in a healthcare setting?


CLICK to Email
CLICK for Print Version
Renew

The Tracer Methodology remains a primary tool for assessing compliance and it can also be a valid tool for assessing risk. An organized and ongoing continuous survey readiness process with integration of tracers throughout the triennial cycle is an excellent way to stay prepared for a survey as well as to identify and mitigate risk.

This process, introduced several years ago, is borrowed from the manufacturing industry, where a product is followed through from start to finish identifying process and system issues. In healthcare, the tracer involves the patient care process or a procedure or system used in the organization. Use the daily census lists, OR schedules, procedure schedules, and other data sources for a selection of patients to trace. Identify processes and systems that support patient care and operations and use existing procedures to develop a tracer or create a process map of the system and use the process map as a tracer guide.

The tracer process may include:

  • Observation of care delivery
  • Observation of medication-related processes
  • Observation of planning care
  • Patient or family interview
  • Review of medical records as indicated
  • Discussion with staff about performance improvement (PI) and patient safety activities, their daily duties and clinical practice, and their orientation and training
  • Review of policies and procedures

It is worth the time to use the tracer process and involve front-line staff. They are the keys to the success of your organization in terms of patient care delivery.

-Jean S. Clark, RHIA, CSHA, and Jodie L. Eisenberg, MHA, CPHQ, CPMSM, CSHA