The Impact of Policy Chaos
Many healthcare organisations that are still using their Intranet to manage their policies and procedures are experiencing what we call "policy chaos." Policy chaos is a state of disorganisation and disarray, where policies are housed in a system with no folder structure and staff members have a challenging time finding policies and procedures. In this case, document workflows are non-existent and there is not a system in place to notify policy owners that a policy needs to be updated. This leads to outdated policies floating around the system.
It often takes a major event - like a CQC (Care Quality Commission) inspection - or the watchful eye of a patient safety champion to realise that your healthcare organisation needs a better policy management system.
Let's say that you are a policy management champion who has been commissioned to evaluate your organisation’s need to upgrade to a more advanced policy management system. What would you audit if you needed to understand how your organisation is currently using your Intranet for policy management?
A good place to start is to survey frontline staff - the primary users of the Intranet site. You can do this by personally visiting units while surveying the staff or asking to attend a staff meeting and explaining what you are hoping to learn.
Here are some evaluation questions you could use to find out if your organisation’s Intranet is effective:
- How often do you use the system?
- Do you need assistance to get into the system?
- Is it easy or challenging to navigate through the system?
- Are you able to find policies and procedures in the system?
- How long does it take you to find policies and/or procedures?
- Are you able to comply with policies within the Intranet?
- If you could change anything about the Intranet, what would you change?
- Are you able to easily track where a policy is at in the review cycle?
- Do you know who is responsible for reviewing outdated policies?
- When you are editing a policy, do you feel confident that it is the most current version of the policy?
Making the Case for a Policy Management Software
You are now equipped with the knowledge needed to become a policy and procedure champion and bring the case for a new system to leadership. Often, leadership do not have the time or ability to make a business case for a system upgrade, so it is important to gather the data you need to make the case yourself. Explain to leadership that the current process for storing and accessing documents impacts the organisation in many ways. A policy system should be efficient and up to date with accurate information to support compliance, ROI and quality of care.
By bringing the needs of frontline staff to leadership, you have enabled them to make an informed decision that benefits the entire team. You have just positioned yourself as a key mediator and advocate for frontline staff.
While you work with the key decisions makers in your organisation to bring in a new policy management system, it is important that you also spend time with the frontline users to get their perspective and buy-in. As the policy and procedure champion, you need to seek out staff members who are actively asking questions about a new policy management system and expressing interest in providing feedback. This is a good indicator that they are engaged and eager to serve on the taskforce for revamping, piloting, and championing a new policy and procedure application. Having staff participate in demoing and evaluating innovative solutions will be empowering for them, and it will ensure that you have a team who is ready to get up and running quickly.
Leverage an Effective Policy Management Software: RLDatix PolicyStat
An effective model for change and performance improvement is Plan-Do-Study-Act (PDSA). What we have gone over so far simply covers up to the "Study" stage. Based on what you and your team have determined to be your best option for a policy and procedure platform, you can then develop an appropriate action plan. Don’t forget to bring those unit staff champions with you! The leadership team will need to continually hear from them too, as they undergo the evaluation process.
Managing your policies and procedures is an important part of providing high quality of care. Policy life-cycle management processes can be too complex for an Intranet. If you are ready to consider adopting a policy management solution, check out the leading healthcare policy management software: RLDatix PolicyStat.
Keeping your policies and procedures current and making them easily available to your entire staff is just one benefit of using a software platform such as PolicyStat – a cloud-based policy management system that streamlines policy management processes and equips staff with the information they need at the point of care.
When staff need to access policies and procedures, they do not have time to waste. PolicyStat’s powerful search capabilities help staff quickly and easily find the policies and procedures they need when they need them most. Accurate, complete, and available policies and procedures provide the fuel for safety confidence that will drive safe behaviours, which in turn will drive your safety culture.
Issues with policies and procedures are commonly identified as contributing factors to events, and in many cases will be identified as root causes to events that are captured in the RLDatix system. When it comes time to update your organisation’s policy documents, you want everyone on the same page. The platform’s robust approval workflows make managing policy reviews a seamless process. Automated review and approval processes help ensure staff across the organisation have read and reviewed necessary policies and procedures.
When your staff is equipped with an effective policy management system, your organisation is taking a crucial step to prioritise safety, reduce risk and save money and time.