Society Produces Mission-driven Clinical Tools to Advance Patient Care

Society Produces Mission-driven Clinical Tools to Advance Patient Care

The Wound, Ostomy and Continence Nurses Society™ (WOCN®) worked collaboratively with key leaders in the field of ostomy care, including Society volunteers and industry staff, to create the Peristomal Skin Assessment Guide for Clinicians and Consumers (PSAG). These are innovative web-based educational resources for clinicians who treat adult patients with ostomies and consumers (patients) with ostomies looking to improve their day-to-day comfort and stoma/skincare management. 

The purpose of these online guides is to help clinicians and consumers standardize assessments, identify various reasons for skin complications and provide simple options for management. Peristomal skin complications can occur from a wide variety of sources, and understanding the source can help clinicians and consumers alike provide appropriate management strategies to ensure optimal comfort and overall positive outcomes

Hollister, Inc., a leading medical device company, developed the original version of the PSAG over the course of several years with the help of leading experts in ostomy care. While the original PSAG contained excellent clinical information, it existed in the form of a printed workbook with complicated color-coded algorithms for clinicians to employ. In its printed form, the PSAG did not receive a warm reception from clinicians, and the tool ended up sitting on bookshelves, not being used at all. 

Given the ample financial investments Hollister made in developing the PSAG, they wanted to pursue ways to reshape the tool to better meet the needs of nurses and other clinicians. Recognizing the WOCN Society’s many successes in releasing widely-used electronic tools, Hollister sought the Society’s assistance in modifying the PSAG. Over the course of several months, the Society worked with the original authors of the guide to review the existing clinical content of the PSAG, making many revisions and additions to ensure that the tool was clinically sound but simple enough for non-experts to use. Once the content was finalized, the transition from print to electronic began.

There are approximately 725,000-1 million people [in the United States] living with an ostomy and each year approximately 120,000 new ostomy surgeries are performed. Based on these statistics, and the fact that the Society’s membership total is approximately 5,300 clinicians, it was evident that there are not nearly enough certified Wound, Ostomy, Continence (WOC) nurses to meet the on-going needs of every patient. By supplementing traditional ostomy care with the PSAG for Clinicians, health care providers are able to easily deliver appropriate and individualized treatment to enhance the quality of life for a patient with an ostomy.

When the PSAG for Clinicians was launched, the goal was to have this clinical tool reach at least 5,000 clinicians across North America within its first year. Since this tool was rolled out however, it has been accessed by over 10,000 individuals in over 60 countries worldwide—initiating Society staff and volunteers to also create the Peristomal Skin Assessment Guide for Consumers, a similar tool designed to help patients identify common skin problems, provide next steps for care or management and appropriately prompt them to seek care or support from a wound, ostomy and continence (WOC) nurse or nurse specialized in wound, ostomy and continence (NSWOC).

Although these resources were created by health care professionals looking to bridge the ostomy related knowledge gap within the United States, both the clinical tool and consumer tool can be utilized by patients and health care professionals worldwide and are meant to aid both sets of individuals (clinicians and patients) in delivering and/or receiving optimal care based on current needs.

The PSAG for Clinicians has been accompanied by a broad reaching campaign that has impacted thousands of people. Now with the addition of PSAG for Consumers, both tools have the potential to impact millions of clinicians and patients across the globe. Both the Peristomal Skin Assessment Guide for Clinicians and the Peristomal Skin Assessment Guide for Consumers exemplify how associations can make a difference every day – not just to the industry or profession represented, but to society at large. 

By launching PSAG for Clinicians, the WOCN Society empowered its members and other WOC professionals to promote the WOC specialty and increase ostomy care and knowledge across all health care settings. With the roll out of PSAG for Consumers, the Society aimed to empower patients to take control over their skincare and stoma care while providing additional comfort and support to enhance their quality of life.

The WOCN Society is a professional community dedicated to advancing the practice and delivery of expert healthcare to individuals with wound, ostomy, and continence care needs. The development of these tools embodies their mission of advancing the delivery of expert healthcare.