Sep 2021
5
Mins read

Managing Policies and Procedures In Healthcare

If you work in healthcare, you would know that record-keeping is one of the strictest, lengthiest, and sometimes trickiest activities involved with the field. Policies and procedures documents govern all healthcare organizations, from therapists and rehabilitation specialists to large public hospitals. These critical documents require careful management to ensure regulatory compliance and to avoid workplace incidents. Policy and procedure management processes can be lengthy and complex, which is why having intuitive, automated software to help organize and schedule can help. Today we take a look at policies and procedures.

What’s the difference between a healthcare policy vs. procedure?

Policies are rules an organization puts into place. In contrast, procedures outline the steps necessary to take to perform routine tasks within the organization. Policies and procedures are generally grouped by organizational areas, such as clinical, governance, code of conduct, etc. 

Certain types of policies and procedures in healthcare may be mandatory for compliance and reporting. For instance, in Australia, the WA Department of Health’s Clinical Handover Policy, is a compulsory policy that needs to be adopted by providers. Procedures are a documented manual of steps to achieve standardization in everyday operational activities, for instance, a HIPAA compliance checklist to comply with mandatory HIPAA policies. 

What should be included in policy and procedure information for healthcare providers?

Healthcare providers must ensure that both policies and procedures are in line with federal and state mandatory healthcare requirements. Beyond this, internal business policies and procedures should be outlined for everyone on the healthcare team to understand the clear picture of operational practice.

Policies and procedures should be as detailed as possible to eliminate any assumptions being made. In documentation and handling healthcare records, version control is a must-have to check historical compliance.

For healthcare settings, there are policy frameworks, models, and patient safety and quality systems that providers can follow to ensure they are following best practices within the industry. For example, in the UK, The Health Systems Support Framework can be used to conduct integrated or shared care. While healthcare standards and regulations are constantly fluctuating, these systems foster consistency in practices. They are in place to help guide care for patients and how to carry out tasks with confidence.

What are some examples of healthcare policies and procedures?

Office-type businesses generally will have policy and procedures documents across standard areas such as OH&S, employee conduct, internet and social media usage, and recruitment. For healthcare providers, there are these standards, plus usually stricter standards on top of them, then a whole other set of standards related to care and privacy to keep both patients and staff safe.

Here are just a few of the healthcare-specific areas that require documentation of policies and procedures:

  • Clinical policy and procedures - e.g. patient transfers
  • Corporate policy and procedures - e.g. medical billing
  • Human resources policy and procedures - e.g. mandatory vaccinations for administrative and support staff
  • Information security policy and procedures - e.g. HIPAA-supported infrastructure
  • Training policy and procedures - e.g. managing patient aggression

For certain areas, such as medication, there is also patient involvement in reviewing policies and procedures. For example, procedures may include guidelines for when a patient changes medications or experiences side effects. 

How often should healthcare policies and procedures be reviewed?

Regularly review all policies and procedures. But what does that mean exactly? Is it possible to ensure all policies and procedures are constantly reviewed and updated?

Healthcare providers should check their professional body and local and federal government guidelines for how often mandatory policies and procedures should be reviewed. Beyond this, they should follow best practice frameworks. For instance, the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners in their Standards for generals practices outlines “reviewing, monitoring and updating the emergency response plan every three months.”

Beyond mandated and best-practice guidelines, providers should look to update policies and procedures on a regular basis and when changes within the organisation or best-practices for healthcare occur.

Policy and procedure review

“It cannot be overstated that policies and procedures must be constantly reviewed and updated. Healthcare standards and regulations are constantly fluctuating. At a minimum, these documents should be refreshed annually and each time a new law or regulation is put in place or updated (Gasior 2017; Leahy n.d.).” - via HealthcareLink

How to automate the management of your healthcare policies and procedures

With CentricMinds’ HIPAA-compliant file management and sharing software, you can set up a policy review cycle so that no policy is left to degrade. In addition, our platform offers healthcare teams full policy and procedure lifecycle management across creation, communication, and management.

Once a policy or procedure document is in draft, it moves into the approval process of the creation. This phase is where Centricminds comes in, providing you with document approval processes and centralizing your policies. 

Using CentricMinds file management and secure sharing, you can quickly identify what upcoming policies are due for review and what is past due for review. Users can automate document review tasks. So that people responsible for the policy or procedure are notified when the document needs reviewing. With CentricMinds workflow automation, owners of the healthcare policy or procedure document can request approval from stakeholders to approve it (such as HR and legal) before it is published.

How to communicate changes to healthcare policies and procedures to staff effectively

Once a policy or procedure has been approved it moves into the communication phase. During this phase the policy or procedure is published to a centralized location for global access to inform healthcare staff.

Communicating the policy also involves sending notifications to stakeholders, making them aware of changes by using micro messages. Communicating policy changes to staff often needs to be done at a rapid pace. The best channel to reach healthcare staff is through a combination of mobile and desktop technologies. Using CentricMinds Employee App you can reach everyone including doctors, clinical assistants, technicians, and patient services assistants in the field.

With CentricMinds it’s easy to create bite sized communication campaigns to create awareness of the changes. You can easily publish and promote these messages to a staff communication hub, Intranet or CentricMinds Employee app or patient record management system.

Training and surveys also play an active part in showing that people understand the policy and what is expected from them. Using CentricMinds, you can create surveys and learning quizzes to quickly get an idea of the amount of staff who truly understand the new policy or procedure, both before and after training.

How to get agreement and understanding from staff on your healthcare policies and procedures 

Once the policies, procedures, and training have been implemented. CentricMinds provides healthcare organizations with the ability to send employees a form to agree that they’ve understood the policy or procedure, using a simple checkbox process or collecting esignatures. These records are then automatically saved into CentricMinds as PDF files. Where there are incidents of non-compliance and policy violation, these records can prove to be valuable.

How to easily maintain the lifecycle of your healthcare HR and corporate healthcare policies and procedures 

The final phase of the policy and procedure lifecycle is maintenance, which is critical in maintaining quality of service and care. CentricMinds file management automatically triggers notifications and reminders to owners of policies and procedures that are due for review. If policies and procedures documents are updated, they are automatically version-controlled, with the older version archived for record-keeping purposes. 

If an incident occurs, or in the case of handling complaints. Providers can easily view the full history of the document, along with who agreed to it, who signed it, and who was trained in the procedure or policy using survey data. Procedures and incident reports can easily be linked and traced.

Do you need better policy and procedure management?

Join providers like Sonic HealthPlus and Virtus Health and put in place better document management, auditing, and training across your healthcare organization. Healthcare organizations endure a high rate of liability risks, which we help diminish with better digital management to decrease mistakes. We hope you’ll join us for a walkthrough demo of CentricMinds to see the benefits of implementing our productivity platform in your business. 

Get started with CentricMinds

We invite you to join us for a tour of CentricMinds, a cloud-based productivity platform designed to help you easily manage your company's policies and procedures in one centralized location. With the ability to connect your assets to your learning management system or HRIS, you'll feel confident that everyone is up-to-speed on your company policies.