The short answer to this question is that it is possible to build your own in house system but the more pertinent question is, should you build your own in-house policy management software system?
Between our engineers they have amassed thousands of hours working with software and have more qualifications than we have wall space for. Despite their expertise they can fully appreciate how difficult and complex the decision is about whether to build an in-house system or to outsource it to a software provider.
In their opinion it breaks down like this:
Cases When You Should Build Your Own In-House Policy Management Software System
- Facility with only a handful of full time employees (10 or less)
- Only need a place to store files (shared drive, Box, Dropbox, USB)
Cases When You Should Not Build Your Own In-House Policy Management Software System
- Health systems
- Multiple locations
- More than 10 full time employees
- Adhere to regulation bodies
- Need more than just file storage
So yes it is possible to build an in-house policy management system but feasibility comes into question once you start. If you had a hospital meeting to discuss looking for policy management solutions I’m sure that the IT personnel present would say that they could build you the same system at a fraction of the cost (who doesn’t like saving money?) and housed inside the hospital, thus removing most security risks.
You would probably be suitably impressed. That may be so but what happens once your IT team builds the system? Who is going to offer support? Who is going to offer training? Who is going to fix the issues if they leave? Who is going to add new features? It’s one thing building the system but in the ever-changing world of healthcare in-house built systems are ideally suited to very small practices and clinics. Over the last 15 years 100% of the in-house systems that we have seen built by in-house IT teams were file management systems, where policies can be posted and queried with some basic search functionality. However, the needs of quality and compliance professionals far transcend this need.
When you buy healthcare policy management software you get contracts that only a few lawyers understand completely. Inside these contracts there is something called a Service Level Agreement (SLA). This agreement is what outlines the support that the vendor company will uphold to. A typical SLA agreement for leading policy management vendors looks like the following:
- Live agent email and phone support Monday to Friday 8am – 6pm EST and Saturday and Sunday 10am to 3pm EST
- During our hours of support you can expect a response outlined in our priority levels:
- Level 1 (mission critical application issues) 4 hours or less
- Level 2 (non-mission critical application issues) 24 hours or less
- Level 3 (non-mission critical performance issues) 3 days or less
- Level 4 (feature requests) 5 days or less.
In-house IT teams may not be thrilled that you need support at 2pm EST on a Sunday. This is a reality however, especially in the face of accreditation readiness and regulatory compliance pressure. To give you some perspective in the last 12 months we have had two level one situations. One of which occurred out of hours. Our engineers found and fixed it before any customers were affected. The second occurred during working hours and our engineers again found it and fixed it before anyone one of our thousands of customers even knew anything had happened.
Who Is Going To Offer Training?
This is important because once your in-house policy management software system is built and it comes time to roll it out to your organization it is essential that the training offered is high quality and communicated correctly. Poor training will affect the user’s ability to utilize the software and it will also negatively influence the traction the software needs to be successful. Most policy management vendors offer multiple ways to learn and train your audience members, from basic FAQs to Online WebEx trainings and On-Site training performed by helpful trainers, such as Bianca and Yusuf. It can difficult to learn new software but good implementation staff will help others become fully versed in how to use it competently.
Who Is Going To Fix The Issues When IT Leaves And Who Is Going To Add New Features?
It’s 6 months after your IT professional has managed to build the in-house policy management software and sufficiently trained staff how to use it. Suddenly they decide to leave the organization, or not renew their contract. Another 3 months go by and everything stops working, grinds to a halt and clogs up, just as a surveyor or inspector walks in your doors.
This is a worst-case scenario but do you really want to risk it? With vendor purchased solutions there is a little section that outlines the process of fixing issues and adding new features. Most leading policy management vendors keep an ongoing list of issues and features that need to be added, or have been added, along with the client that requested it. If you would like further details about this please do not hesitate to contact me directly.
As I said in the beginning it is not a matter of can or cannot, it is a matter of should or should not. After reading this article I hope you now have an idea of some of the important considerations to keep in mind when making a decision about whether to create your policy management software in-house or to outsource it to a vendor. It may also have raised further questions that we would be more than happy to discuss so please do not hesitate to contact our team. Or alternatively if you would just like to see our software offering, PolicyManager, in action please request a no obligation demonstration.