With so many competing priorities at organizations in the healthcare world, handling policies and procedures…
Investing in a policies and procedures management system is a great first step in accomplishing the healthcare reform goals of reducing costs and increasing quality of care – it shrinks or eliminates many operational costs involved in maintaining policies and procedures, and it helps to promote healthcare best practices. Any system you choose will be around for years to come, so you will want to be thorough in your search; the checklist below will help you evaluate the top ten factors to consider when choosing a system.
- Is it easy to use? Speed and simplicity are critical. The distance between a caregiver and vital information needs to be short, and applications have to meet users at their level of computer knowledge.
- Does it have powerful search capabilities? The search function in a web-based policies and procedures management application performs best when the information is stored in a web format such as HTML versus Word or PDF; this allows for robust, full-text searching.
- Does it support multiple document types? Policies and procedures are only part of a spectrum of important reference documentation, all of which you will want to manage inside a single application if possible.
- Does it support all devices used at my facility? Policies, procedures and other vital information are only valuable when each team member has access to them. To be beneficial and actually used by staff, the policies and procedures management system must be available on all devices used throughout a facility: desktops, laptops, tablets and mobile devices.
- Will it scale and adjust to my organization’s growth? Extensibility and flexibility are crucial in a growing healthcare organization. In addition to overall cost containment, regulations such as the Affordable Care Act are encouraging mergers, acquisitions, service line cooperation and sometimes contraction among facilities. Make sure the software can handle the growth, especially if you are already part of a large health network.
- Will it fit seamlessly into our environment? The best policies and procedures management software will offer integration into your Active Directory setup, your Intranet and any other web resources you use inside or outside of your firewall.
- Is it built and delivered with the web in mind? Web-retrofitted versions of older applications lack the speed, web capabilities (e.g. RSS feeds for report updates or changes to specific content, etc.), flexibility, site monitoring and security of an application originally architected for the Internet. When in doubt, ask IT.
- Does it meet our standards for availability and disaster planning? Bad things inevitably happen, and you need to plan for them. Any web-based application should be managed like other enterprise applications with load-balanced application servers and mirrored databases running in geographically separate data centers. Also be sure you have the ability to back up your information in the event of internet failure.
- Will it burden our IT department? While an on-premise solution means significant IT involvement, a Software as a Service healthcare IT solution brings with it expected cost savings and IT productivity gains. For a true cost savings in a SaaS product, however, the system must significantly reduce or eliminate total IT involvement required for implementation, support and maintenance.
- Is the pricing structure fair? The objective for healthcare IT applications intended for broad use is to have as many people using them as possible; however, make sure the price is capped to avoid any hidden fees down the line.