Welcome to part one of our five part series on Best Practices. This installment is Best Practices: Policy and Procedure Management. Over the next several weeks we’ll release best practices for managing your healthcare documents including policies, contracts, educational materials, and clinical order sets. We understand that for many organization’s it’s a tough starting point, knowing how to handle policy and procedure management especially when time is of the essence. This series will provide new perspectives and insights to help you mitigate risk, remain prepared for surveys, and provide the best care possible to patients. Let us take the guess work out of it so you can focus on what is most important, the patients in your healthcare institution.
Policy and Procedure Management 101
What exactly is policy and procedure management you ask? Simply put it’s the process of creating, communicating, and maintaining policies and procedures within an organization. A typical hospital has numerous policies on varied topics so an efficient policy and procedure management system is critical. A comprehensive and well-managed set of policies can support a healthcare organization’s activities by communicating boundaries and expectations, establishing a culture of compliance within the organization, protecting the organization from litigation, and helping provide the best possible care to patients. It is a critical component of care in any healthcare institution.
The best practices to ensure that your organization’s policy and procedure management is handled effectively and efficiently.
Find A Policy Administrator
This is key. The policy administrator is the person who will be the resident expert for your policy management system. This could be either a full or part time position based on the needs of the organization which can be sourced internally or externally. When hiring internally, healthcare organizations usually find a good candidate within administration, quality, or compliance departments. Their responsibilities include maintaining and distributing policies, procedures and forms, providing training, and compiling policy data.
Create A Policy Committee
Time to rally the troops. Assembling a policy committee is an important best practice that will help keep your policy initiative on track, policies up to date, and your organization in compliance with regulatory agencies. Policy committees allow for centralization of thought and open communication about your policy and procedure management process. The committee should consist of key stakeholders from various departments, including nursing, quality, administration, education, and IT. You should meet a minimum of once a quarter to no more than once a week. Policy committee meetings should be tactical in nature, last no more than 50 minutes, and have a clear agenda outlined.
Standardize Your Policy Format
Consistency is your best friend. Policy standardization should be a major priority for healthcare organization’s. Organizational changes, including merges and regulatory changes, can lead to inconsistent policy formats. It is best to achieve a consistent look and feel for your policies, with a corporate logo, an appropriate legal disclaimer and the inclusion of all key policy sections.
Create A Policy On Policies
Set the standard. Creating a policy on policies is an important step to having an organized and efficient policy library. Your policy on policies will set the process for drafting, reviewing, and approving all organizational policies. It should be written with regulations and standards, organizational norms and expectations and your policy management system in mind.
Delegate Responsibilities And Control Access
Establish a workflow. Your policy management system should allow you to delegate responsibilities to specific individuals such as writing, editing, reviewing, and/or approving policies. Establishing committees and workflows will standardize the way a policy is revised each time. In addition, your administrators should have full control over granting users (or groups of users) different levels of access for reading and editing policies, thus increasing overall security and privacy.
Track All Policy Changes – When, Why And By Whom
Create accountability. A clear trail of policy changes is imperative when questions or disputes arise relating to compliance. An effective policy management system should track all changes and record who made each change, when it was made and why. Your policy management system should automatically notify the appropriate individuals when policies are up for review and archive previous versions.
An efficient approach to policy and procedure management is standardized, has designated leaders and provides easy access to all updated policies and procedures. A comprehensive policy and procedure management system should be a pillar of an organization’s compliance and patient safety activities. In today’s ever-changing regulatory environment it is important to have a policy and procedure management system that can adjust and adapt to the needs of your organization. These best practices will help your organization form a solid foundation to reach your policy and procedure management goals.
Would you like more information on implementing a policy and procedure management system in your organization? Ask us a question in the comments below or Contact Us.