Inside UW Health,Mission Watch,Survey Readiness Resources

Tracer Methodology

Tracer Methodology - Inside UW Health, Mission Watch, Survey Readiness Resources


Rather than filling the survey agenda with formal interviews and unit tours, the new survey process allows surveyors to score standards by spontaneously following or "tracing" either a patient or system through the organization. Surveyors select patients and systems to "trace" based on an organization's priority focus areas for the survey as well as areas identified in its most recent self-evaluation. 

Learn More about Patient and System Tracers

Home Health Survey Agenda at a Glance 

Quarterly Clinical Service Area Tracers 

In order to maintain continual survey readiness, managers/directors of a patient care area must conduct two tracers annually in their work areas according to the Quarterly Schedule. As tracers should be multidisciplinary in nature, staff from departments such as environmental services, dietary, pharmacy and RT should be included in inpatient unit tracers and other departments’ tracers as appropriate. 

: Print a hard copy to use during your tracer 

Online Patient Tracer Data Entry Form: Report your tracer results here. 

Tracer Trending Report RFI Count 

Non-Patient Care Tracers 

Managers of non-patient care areas, such as Admissions, Central Services and Patient Relations, should conduct tracers of their key processes, and review environmental issues and the handling of Protected Health Information (PHI). While at this time completion of a tracer form is not required for these support departments, maintaining continual survey readiness is expected. 

Second Generation Tracers 

While the traditional tracer could address any topic involving any patient, the second generation is more focused on certain key areas and processes. The surveyor will look at the process at a systems level, and a specific patient may or may not be involved. All aspects of a particular process are looked at to answer the question “why are things done this way?”. Some examples of a Second Generation Tracer are: analyze sterilizer maintenance, following the path of an antibiotic. 

When would staff use Second Generation Tracers?

Inpatient nursing directors do a Second Generation tracer twice a year. Other staff are welcome to use this form to assess topics of interest.