The other day I was at a client site discussing the implementation of our policy management software solution. This client is at the beginning stages of deployment of our policy management system. However that’s not what I wanted to write about today. During that meeting it dawned on me what one of the main pains this client is dealing with. I’ve been designing policy management software and coaching healthcare facilities in the best practices of how to deploy these types of systems for over 13 years and have become hyper sensitive to detecting the pain that our customers might be feeling even before they might even know that they are feeling it. I guess you can call it my policy management spidey sense. For example, years ago when we built the healthcare industries first policy management software solution we coined a term called “Policy Chaos” that summed up the pain that drove hospitals and long term care facilities to call us in the first place.
However a few weeks ago I discovered a new pain that in retrospect I have been seeing and hearing our clients describe for the past 12 months. This is the pain of cleaning up the policy documents themselves because of the drive of almost all healthcare organizations to standardize policies. Policy standardization is driven in part by all of the merger and acquisition and consolidation activity that is going on in the healthcare sector. This is especially the case in the United States with the increasing number of organizations organizing themselves together because of the advent of Accountable Care Organizations or ACO’s. Based on the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services website an ACO is defined as:
“…groups of doctors, hospitals and other healthcare providers, who come together voluntarily to give coordinated high quality care to their Medicare patients.”
With all of these healthcare organizations coming together we see the increasing push to standardize policies. Of course policy standardization is a good best practice within any organization and it has always been something that our clients have worked on. However the need to now have the same look and feel across all policies has never been more important.
Here are some of the main items that many healthcare organizations are tackling when going through their policy standardization efforts:
– Ensuring all policies have the correct and current logo.
– Removing peoples names and inserting titles instead. This gives more longevity to the policy. For example a hospital may remove Jane Smith’s name from all policies and insert VP Quality instead.
– With most organizations moving toward the adoption of a web based policy management software solution inserting a legal disclaimer in the footer of all policies that says something to the effect of “The official version of this policy is housed in our electronic policy management system and this policy is invalid if printed” is a must. This protects hospitals and long-term care facilities from staff printing policies, posting it on a bulletin board, forgetting about it and following that policy even when it becomes outdated.
– If a merger or acquisition as occurred then replacing the previous name of the facilities with the new company name is a must.
– Going through general formatting to ensure there is a consistent look and feel for all policies.
– Generating a sample template that all new policies must be authored in is also a great best practice that many healthcare facilities are engaged in.
These are just some of the main efforts that most healthcare organizations that are in the process of cleaning up their policies in preparation for a policy management software solution are engaged in. The main issue here is that this is usually a very time consuming and tedious process. You can imagine if one had to do all of the items above to 2000 documents how time consuming that would be.
To help with this, some of our customers use the services of our data entry team to help with this policy cleanup effort. We have also developed a tool that we use internally that is capable of finding all logos, names, titles, images etc. and replacing it all at once across any number of documents. This transforms what was previously a document by document process that would take many hours into a job that one can do in minutes. We have been using this tool for several years internally and dubbed it the “Policy Scrubber.” We are in the process of releasing it to clients that need it.
As my appreciation to you as a reader, and if you’ve made it all the way to end of my article and if you are actively working on a policy standardization project, I’d like to offer you a copy of our “Policy Scrubber” free of charge. It will definitely help in your preparation for your policy management software deployment. Just send me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and I will ensure you are mailed a copy of “Policy Scrubber”!