It can often be difficult to give an honest and objective appraisal of one’s own company and services as bias can often set in. When offering past and present customer reviews these can be cherry picked to help mould a certain image. It’s a bit like ‘spin’ in politics but without an opposition party to pick holes in your policies- excuse the pun!
Being new to the world of healthcare, and knowing absolutely nothing about policy management software, I feel like the new kid in a foreign school. That being said, it puts me at a distinct advantage. I am approaching healthcare policy management with no preconceptions, or knowledge, so I can ask the questions that others are afraid to ask; or have not thought to ask. With this in mind, I decided to conduct a series of interviews with a variety of members in the healthcare community, industry experts, and some of the longest serving members of staff at PolicyMedical. The idea is to better educate myself in the industry I am now employed in, and present some unbiased, unedited, and frank opinions in the vast and complex world of policy management software within the healthcare sphere.
Recently, I caught up with Donna Willeumier from Advocate Healthcare (Administrator of Quality Management and Regulatory for the System) to find out her thoughts on a number of current issues.
It is challenging to wean people, who are already used to working from multiple sources, towards a system with a centralized resource location. This is mainly due to the possibility that people feel more comfortable when they have control over a certain area, hence keeping their documents in a preferred location. One strategy to rectify this problem is to make the staff members understand the benefits of moving to a centralized location and to reinforce this practice by making previous locations of the sources unavailable to them. In addition, the reinforcement of digitalizing paper documents is essential, in order to help staff members realize that paper copies are unnecessary. “It is a culture shift and as the culture starts changing, it becomes easier, and easier, for people to understand the importance of having a centralized location, versus having multiple places to go to,” says Donna, as she addresses the challenging issue of encouraging others to move to a centralized and digitalized location of documents, which policy management software facilitates.
Donna considers document control to be one of the biggest components of regulatory compliance. This is primarily because agencies that come in to the organization need proof that its staff are following the procedures outlined and has an accurate trail of actions taken, and of the results achieved. “So the old saying is, “if it’s not documented, it didn’t happen,” therefore good documentation is just absolutely essential to demonstrate our regulatory compliance,” says Donna. In addition, a well-defined document helps the staff to better understand the regulations, as well as in easing the process of being able to follow them. Therefore, there are actually two benefits to having good documentation related to regulatory compliance.
Does the implementation of a Document Control System have any adverse affects on the employment of any of the staff members?
As some staff members’ job descriptions requires them to be regularly updating and maintaining documents and other administrative tasks, a common misconception of the possibility of employment cutbacks may arise. However, Donna remains convinced that the implementation of a Document Control System will not have any such adverse affect. In fact, she believes that since no one staff member is responsible for the document management, this task is then an add-on to their primary role. This additional task may then, act as an unnecessary obstacle that keeps them from doing their primary job. “We have, to my knowledge, almost no one that has been dedicated to just putting together document binders, or putting them online. Many times this was done in addition to other responsibilities so they probably understood that this would make their job easier in that respect that they have other responsibilities to do.” Thus, the implementation of the document control system lightens the burden of staff members and helps them concentrate on tasks that are more urgent in nature. Furthermore, in Donna’s experience, staff members have been very enthusiastic with the implementation and often wonder if more associates should be hired to ensure the efficiency and effectiveness of the system. She states, “In fact, the question that was asked here more commonly was the opposite, which is; Do we need more associates to be able to manage well the document control as we move forward and to ensure that it’s done correctly?’”
It is not necessary for an organization to be pursuing a ISO9001 Quality Management System to be able to adapt good document control. Donna states, “I think it is one of the biggest challenges healthcare has in general. It will help an organization be more efficient, function better, and help lead it to a more reliable performance.”
All healthcare organizations can greatly benefit with a well-managed document control process and system. ISO provides a defined framework that helps ensure how the document control process is done in order to maximize its efficiency. This said, efficiency leads to higher productivity and develops a well organized setting in which staff members are thoroughly aware of the policies and documents associated with it.
It is easy to understand from Donna’s thoughts here how important a good, efficient, easy to use, and an organized document management system is. This importance becomes abundantly clear when demonstrating regulatory compliance. While there are clearly obstacles to overcome in terms of overcoming issues such as, staff reluctance, successful staff uptake is important. Fears, such as redundancies, are unfounded and education is critically important.
We here at PolicyMedical could not agree more. That is why we are continually trying to help organizations overcome their policy management issues, whether they use our software, or not. To that end we would love to hear your thoughts, issues or concerns so please contact us to discuss further. Alternatively if you would like to see our software in action, please request a demonstration.