FORT BRAGG, N.C. - The Army Nurse Corps developed the Patient Caring Touch System to guide the delivery of nursing care throughout Army medicine.

The system was designed to ensure that the patient (servicemember and/or their beneficiary as well as a military retiree and/or their beneficiary) is at the center in all nursing care delivery environments. The PCTS is illustrated by a maroon star and comprised of five core elements that provide the Army nursing triad (Army nurses, Soldier medics, and Department of Defense civilians) with a foundation to implement evidence-based changes and routine daily patient care processes throughout Army medicine.

Each of the five elements defines, describes, links and enables the system. The PCTS builds on the ability of Army medical personnel from front line combat medics to combat support hospital personnel to staff at sites such as Womack Army Medical Center to provide state of the art medical care by focusing all team members on the patient. PCTS guides all members and ensures quality care throughout the entire patient care experience. The system is expected to decrease practice variance across Army nursing and improve both patient and organizational outcomes.

For example, one element, the healthy work environment uses shared accountability or the use of unit practice councils to give nursing team members a voice in their practice and in the innovation of that practice through elected nursing practice councils at unit, facility, and ANC levels.

Another element, patient advocacy uses this voice and our core values, as expressed in documents such as the Army nursing team creed and the American Nurses Association scope and standards of practice to guide our nursing practice and our interactions with our patients, their Families and our colleagues.

Patient advocacy also supports the formation of care teams, a nursing team that cares for a patient throughout the length of stay under the direction of a lead registered nurse who serves as a primary nursing point of contact to the patient and Family and as an advocate for the patient and Family to the institution.

The teams are expected to increase the consistency of care and enhancing communication among caregivers. This leads to another element, enhanced communication which will use both peer feedback (allowing licensed nursing team members to reflect on their practice and develop professionally through feedback from colleagues on strengths and opportunities for growth) and standardized documentation (a tri-service effort among the Air Force, Army and Navy to improve nursing efficiency and patient safety by using a common language and documentation format across providers, units, and facilities) to improve patient care and patient and organizational outcomes.

A forth element is capacity building. It uses skill building to provide consistent, relevant opportunities for nursing team members to gain or refresh their knowledge and patient care abilities.

Finally, evidence based practices supports optimized performance at the unit and organization levels by requiring the consistent collection and reporting of standard metrics that track quality outcomes and patient satisfaction with their care.

This optimized performance data can also be used by the UPCs to identify areas for improvement, building on our patient advocacy responsibility to improve care by finding evidence based practices with better outcomes and develop a plan to build staff skill levels to improve our outcomes.

The end result is cycles of data driven, staff initiated, patient care improvements unifying the components of the system and elements of the model to aid the nursing staff to improve patient care.

WAMC began implementing the Patient Caring Touch System in February of 2011. As will be described, we have recognized and honored our core values, stood up unit practice councils as well as a Womack Nursing Practice Council, implementing many nursing practice improvements this the year.

During 2011, the ANC has identified WAMC repeatedly as a leader in optimized performance, implementing care teams and peer feedback all while maintaining a strong skill building program. The clinical dashboards created as part of optimized performance demonstrate improvements in patient care, clinical and business outcomes and staff and patient satisfaction.

The implementation of care teams has been complex, but worth it. Expanding the ability of our team of RNs, LPNs, medics, CNAs, and clerks to work together to improve patient care and the work environment is reflected in the optimized performance metrics previously mentioned and patient and staff feedback regarding the clinical setting.

While our nursing excellence journey to enhance practice and sustain PCTS has been and will continue to be challenging, it will be exciting and filled with opportunity to grow and improve. Ultimately, patient care at WAMC, under PCTS will continue to advance.

Page last updated Fri March 9th, 2012 at 00:00