Writing effective healthcare policies and procedures for healthcare organizations is a daunting task. It requires a great deal of time, effort, and attention to detail. Through the many healthcare organizations we have advised, we have learnt that the final product must reflect the values of that organization, while outlining processes for day-to-day activities, and ultimately preventing risk. Before being disseminated to employees, policies must undergo a multi-step process, of writing, reviewing, and approving. We know this process inside and out, and we are committed to helping you to get it right. That commitment is absolute, whether you find our software a good match for your organization, or if you find another vendors offering is a better match.
A good first step in writing effective healthcare policies and procedures is to standardize your policy format. In many healthcare organizations, decentralized policy creation processes have led 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 relevant policy sections. Policy numbers can also be useful, especially for larger organizations, such as IDN’s and multi-site health systems.
Once your policies have a standardized format, your focus can shift to their actual content. In today’s healthcare environment, there is an increasing number of regulations that must be adhered to, from HIPAA and the Affordable Care Act, to state, provincial, and local regulations. Effective policies guide healthcare organizations in adhering to stated requirements while establishing their values, ethics, commitments, and social responsibility. Effective policies allow staff members to understand their duties and obligations, within predefined limits. They also provide a general strategy to leadership on how to handle various ethical issues as they arise.
While healthcare policies state organizational requirements, healthcare procedures establish a clear plan of action to implement them. They provide step-by-step guidance to staff members in order to clarify guidelines and eliminate misunderstandings. Procedures explain exactly when, and how to take action in specific situations, while also providing acceptable alternatives. A procedure can be visualized as a road map, giving direction and highlighting details, to prevent staff members from wandering off the appropriate path.
Healthcare organizations must be sure that healthcare policies and procedures that guide patient care are in compliance with regulatory standards and are quickly and easily accessible to staff members. Such guidance will ensure that employees are following proper procedures and creating a safe environment for patients. A 2000 report from the US Institute of Medicine found that between 44,000 and 98,000 patients die from preventable deaths each year in hospitals in the United States, and much more suffer from preventable injuries. In addition, the report estimated that total national costs from adverse events in hospitals are between $17 billion and $29 billion per year. One of the IOM report’s primary conclusions was that the majority of medical errors are not the result of the actions of specific individuals, but rather faulty systems, processes, and conditions, including policies and procedures.
From a legal standpoint, one of the most important purposes of policies and procedures is to serve as a tool for liability risk management. For example, if a lawsuit is filed against the healthcare organization, defense lawyers must demonstrate that policies and procedures were in place, up to date, and that employees complied with them. Not having effective policies in place puts your organization at great risk.
Writing effective healthcare policies and procedures is critical to ensure that your organization’s activities align with its stated values, your day-to-day activities are consistent, and adverse events are prevented. They provide clarity to employees when dealing with processes that are critical to the healthcare organization, including patient safety, regulatory requirements, and legal liabilities. Although writing effective policies can be a time-consuming task, the benefits are immeasurable.
At PolicyMedical we always strive to aid all healthcare professionals to write effective healthcare policies and procedures. Once these documents are created, some healthcare providers might find our software right for managing them, or in other instances, they may find another vendors software more suitable. In order to help make an informed judgment on this, please feel free to contact us to discuss more. It is also possible to explore the wide range of content in our knowledge center or request a no obligation demonstration to see PolicyManager in action.