The healthcare industry is constantly changing which means healthcare professionals must continuously stay up to date with industry changes. In particular, it is important that organizations keep up with compliance-related updates, so they can evolve their policies and procedures to reflect these changes. To streamline this process, it’s helpful for healthcare organizations to implement an easy to manage healthcare policy management software. An effective policy management system helps organizations practice on-going management of their documents which includes continuous review of healthcare policies and procedures.
The Next Step: Policy Review
Policy management is a dynamic and continual process that requires regular monitoring and review of policies and procedures. Even when your documents are standardized, meticulously organized and easily accessible to staff members, your policy management efforts must continue. Policy review entails regularly revisiting each one of your policies to ensure that they are compliant with various standards and regulations and reflect current processes within your organization.
So how often should you conduct a review? The answer depends on several factors, including the size and type of your healthcare organization, the complexity of your processes and the number of standards and regulations you’re required to observe. In order to determine how often policies and procedures should be reviewed in your organization, the most important factor to consider is your organization’s accreditation requirements in combination with internal standards.
How Healthcare Standards and Regulations Impact Policy Review
Healthcare organizations throughout North America have an abundance of standards and regulations to abide by, from The Affordable Care Act and HIPAA, to state, provincial, and regional regulations. To support healthcare organizations in their compliance efforts, RLDatix PolicyStat offers Standards & Regulations Manager, an optional add-on module that allows healthcare organizations to link their policies and procedures to accreditation agencies such as The Joint Commission, CAP, HFAP, DNV, CMS CoPs and others. When a healthcare organization selects specific regulations to align with, if those regulations are updated, Standards & Regulations Manager sends automated email alerts and notifications to staff. It also allows organizations to easily link to a standard or regulation within an existing policy.
When a new standard or regulation is introduced, organizations must create new or update existing policies. They must also disseminate the policies to employees and train them on new or updated procedures. The constantly evolving provisions of healthcare standards and regulations impact every hospital department in some way, making it important that organizations adopt a tool to help them quickly share updated policies across the organization. PolicyStat supports communication across an organization with email notifications and reminders that can be sent directly from the system to help ensure staff are updated on new information.
Stay Prepared with Internal Policy Reviews
Many accrediting agencies stipulate exactly how often policies and procedures must be updated, whether it is annually, biennially or triennially. This can serve as a general guideline for healthcare facilities as they establish their policy and procedure review schedule. In addition to following guidelines set out by accrediting agencies, many healthcare facilities have additional internal standards that guide the frequency of policy review. These internal guidelines often occur more frequently than audits by accrediting agencies and ensure that when inspections and audits occur, policies are updated.
Healthcare organizations should be equipped with a robust policy and procedure management system that features an established method for policy review. RLDatix PolicyStat’s approval workflows help healthcare organizations know the status of each policy in their library and help staff easily view changes that have been made to a document. Some organizations rely on verbal or manual methods for approval workflow processes which can result in important information falling through the cracks. Approval workflows within PolicyStat streamline the approval process and help organizations clearly define and document the workflow process to maintain their compliance with accrediting and regulatory bodies.
A good general rule for healthcare organizations is to start with an annual review of all policies and procedures. Organizations should stagger the review dates for each policy, so that they are not overwhelmed with a multitude of reviews within a short amount of time. As you gain experience and your organization changes, you can adjust the frequency and scope of your policy and procedure reviews. In today’s ever-evolving healthcare regulatory environment, policies must evolve as well. However, revising them too frequently may create an unnecessary burden on administrators as well as quality and compliance professionals. It’s important to find an appropriate balance.
Reducing Risk with Compliant Healthcare Policies and Procedures
Failure to regularly review your policies and procedures puts your organization at risk for non-compliance. If staff members cannot easily access updated policies and procedures to guide their day-to-day activities, they are likely to make mistakes. PolicyStat’s powerful search as you type technology eliminates any stress that staff might experience when trying to find policies. The software indexes all policy content to help staff find what they are looking for at the point of care. If policies are not reviewed regularly, when the time inevitably comes for an inspection or audit, your organization will have to work against tight deadlines to review and update policies, which could result in inaccurate and ineffective policies and procedures. When this occurs, PolicyStat empowers healthcare organizations to easily access, update and share policies at any time.
Policy Management as an Ongoing Process
Since effective policy management impacts the daily and long-term function of a healthcare organization, an organization’s policy management efforts must be ongoing. Part of this process involves determining when policies should be reviewed, either internally or by accrediting bodies. If an organization defines a regular policy and procedure review schedule, they will be better positioned to achieve and sustain quality and compliance. While navigating the ever-evolving regulatory world of healthcare can feel overwhelming at first, having an effective policy management software in place is essential to streamlining this process.