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With so many competing priorities at organizations in the healthcare world, handling policies and procedures tends to move toward the bottom of the list. Unfortunately, the management and communication of these important documents is typically seen as a time-cost rather than a time-investment.
As you look for ways to increase efficiency and keep staff informed on how the organization operates, consider these five questions:
1. Where do your documents “live”?
It might seem like an easy question to start, but reflect on where your documents are stored, particularly the editable versions. Far too often, the editable versions are stored on different staff members’ computers. The archived versions may also be in disparate locations. Ideally, all of your documents should “live” in one place, in-turn allowing staff to be certain of where they can access them.
If the answer is “look in the binder,” then you are well below the curve. Staff have a limited amount of time, and you want to remove slow processes. You may know where one particular policy is, but can your entire staff quickly and easily find any given policy? To gauge this, we encourage you to ask a newer employee to find a given policy and literally time them (obviously reassuring them that this is for organizational improvement/measuring, not to get them worried about their performance!) to see how quickly they can find it.
3. Who gets to edit/revise/review/approve them?
Ad hoc seems to prevail in so many instances. Whether you decide that 5 or 50 people should have a hand in the process, that is an organizational decision. However, the decision should be definitively made and clearly communicated.
Keep in mind that the setup you use for document management should not inherently dictate who edits/revises/reviews/approves. In other words, if you store and manage documents on a shared drive, it would be a bad decision to decide that only one or two “gatekeepers” can handle them. This is terribly inefficient. Other setups, such as a dedicated software for document management, can help make sure the right people can do what they need to without the fears that come with granting too many permissions to users.
Be honest with yourself: Do you review your documents as frequently as you need to? If so, are you confident they get the attention needed for each review? This is certainly no small task to accomplish, but from a survey/inspection point of view, it is crucial. Furthermore, an operational efficiency perspective also dictates that you need to have documents in order and reviewed in a timely fashion. If you aren’t reviewing them as frequently as you ideally should be, then we encourage scoping out tools to help.
5. How do you communicate to staff what has changed?
One of the most frustrating scenarios occurs when leadership has created great policies that staff have no knowledge of, and therefore do not follow. Again, during these self-assessment questions, it is certainly worth taking a step back to review how communication happens within your organization, how much time is spent on that communication, and how you are tracking and ensuring that the information has been communicated. Some organizations even like to have a policy on that!
PolicyStat is a tool that can help you address these questions and ensure your staff are up-to-date on your organization’s policies and procedures.
See a demonstration of PolicyStat here!