Care Tracker: A New Approach to Nursing Care in Ambulatory Settings

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The shift from inpatient to ambulatory settings and the increasingly large and diverse numbers of ambulatory clients require reengineering and cost-effective approaches to managing ambulatory care. With data on 921 encounters in 12 ambulatory clinics, we developed CARE TRACKER, an instrument to describe nursing encounters by type, intervention, staff, time, and cost. Distinguishing nursing from medical interventions is an appreciable improvement over the traditional practice of bundling nursing as part of overhead costs. If managers can track the care delivered, they can better calculate staffing requirements, staff mix, inservice needs, and the costs of their existing and projected services.

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