This industry specific type of policy management software is designed for Policy Administrators, Compliance Specialists, or anyone else who is in charge of tracking policies and standard operating procedures, in the healthcare or medical industry.
In this article we will discuss what it is, the benefits for your hospital or medical facility, and what features are most often needed by health professionals.
Healthcare policy management software is an application or program that allows hospitals and healthcare organizations to create, review, approve, publish, distribute, and track all of a healthcare facility’s policies and procedures in one centralized location.
For example: If a hospital needed to implement a new hand washing procedure, like many did during the 2020 pandemic; a healthcare policy management software would allow the policy administrator to create the new procedure in the software (or copy paste from the government recommended procedure); this could then be shared for review with any needed changes or clarifications applied; once finalized and approved by the organization it will be published to a searchable database where it can be easily found by all employees; then emails or messages can be sent from the software to all employees to notify them that a new policy or procedure is in place; and finally, if needed, the organization can track which employees have acknowledged receipt and accepted the new policy; while maintaining a record in the software of who has, and has not, accepted the policy for review by the policy administrator.
Most healthcare policy software has built in document creation software that works like or even integrates with Microsoft Word or Google Docs. This means that you can create a new policy just as you would a word document, and you can share it with other members of your management, compliance, or administration teams for faster feedback and approval. This means that policies are created and approved much faster than other paper-based or non-digital systems.
Once a policy is created or updated, the next step is making sure that all employees, or at least those who the policy applies to, are aware of the change. Healthcare policy software makes this process easy by allowing you to send notifications through email, phone, text message, and more to all relevant parties about the policy update. Messages can also be sent to groups that you define, eg: the finance team or maintenance team, or to the company as a whole.
Not only can you easily share healthcare policies with relevant team members or employees, but you can also track who has agreed to or accepted the new or updated policy. This process (known as attestation) can collect a real or digital signature from employees to serve as a record of their acceptance of policy and procedure changes. This increases accountability on the employees side, as they have agreed to follow the policy and procedure, as well as on the policy administrators side, as they are responsible for addressing delinquent employees (those who did not sign).
Rather than having a policy administrator chasing down any employees who have not acknowledged receipt or acceptance of new or updated policies, healthcare policy management software does this automatically. Reminders can be sent, and even warnings if necessary, if workers do not accept the policy or procedure by a certain date, and reminders can be increased until manual intervention (escalation) is needed. This saves countless hours of policy admin time, and reduces friction between policy administrators and other employees.
Knowing who has and who has not accepted your healthcare policies makes it a lot easier to achieve compliance with any regulatory body. For example, if you need all of your US-based doctors to agree to a change in HIPAA regulations in order to comply with a new HIPPA policy on Protected Health Information (PHI), you can track which doctors have accepted and which need follow up, and report your acceptance rate back to the regulatory body in real-time if needed.
What steps does a healthcare worker need to take in the event of a high risk exposure? Sure, you can have more senior members of the team instruct them on the steps to take, or you can put posters around the hospital with the recommended procedure, or you can have an easy to search digital catalog or policies and procedures that can be accessed by the employee with a step by step guide on how to proceed. One of the biggest advantages of a healthcare policy management software is that all policies and procedures are centralized and easy to find, so that knowledge transfer is made easy for all employees.
Policy management in the healthcare industry is difficult because policies and procedures can change frequently. That is why healthcare policy management software can be very useful as it allows you to locate policies easily, update them when these frequent changes occur, and delete older or obsolete policies to reduce confusion. Most medical policy software will let you see the last updated date, flag policies that have not been updated in some time, and spot redundant or duplicate policies that may be better off removed from the database.
Last, but certainly not least, the overall time savings that hospital policy admins will experience by implementing policy systems is well worth the cost. With less time being spent tracking down policies for sharing, or spent chasing employees for attestation, or spent creating/reviewing/editing policies, you should easily see hours per week in time savings within days of implementing.
One of the key features you need to verify before purchasing a health and hospital policy management software is that it will work in your city, state, or country by integrating with local health authorities.
For example, many policies in the healthcare industry come directly from the state, provincial, or federal department of health. In the United States these policies could come from the Center for Disease Control (CDC), the Department of Health of Health and Human Services (HHS) or even the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). However in Canada they may come from Health Canada, while in Australia and Europe they come from the Department of Health and Public Health Europe respectively.
The last thing you want is to have to manually add all health policies and procedures because there is no integration with your health authority, OR perhaps worse, that you are non-compliant with HIPAA or GDPR because you used the incorrect system.
Whether you choose a cloud-based, or an on-premise, policy management software, as a healthcare worker you are responsible for some of the most sensitive data a person has, their health data.
Whether your policies require the tracking of staff vaccination status for a variety of diseases, or whether they track any other confidential data, you will want to make sure that the system you choose has restrictions on who can access what and from where.
Failure to do so might not just cause issues with your staff, but also may cause you to fail HIPAA or GDPR compliance.
This software will be used by everyone within your organization, from the policy administrators, to the doctors, nurses, orderlies, maintenance team, and maybe even some patients. As such, you will want a software that is easy to use for everyone from staff to admins alike.
Therefore, you should make sure you have an in-depth demo, or at the very least a walk-through of the software before making any decisions. If it is easy for you to use, consider asking someone else who is less tech savvy to try before signing the final contract.
Please note: There are several other general policy management software features to consider that are not specific to the healthcare industry in our policy management software guide.
In short, all of them. Or at least they should. Just some of the many health organizations that we have seen benefit from policy software include:
Although there are many individual healthcare policies and procedures that are used by the majority of hospitals and medical facilities, the most common types of policies would typically fall into the categories outlined below:
Administrative policies tend to have a bad reputation, maybe because they are often associated with red tape and what cannot be done - rather than what is allowed, but without having administrative policies in place, hospitals and healthcare facilities would not be able to run safely or efficiently which in turn would put staff and patients at risk.
Healthcare and hospital administrative policies help the institution define what practices and procedures should be done for the benefit of staff and patients, all the while reducing costs and minimizing risks.
There is a wide range of administrative policies that are used in hospitals and healthcare facilities. The following is far from an exhaustive list, but covers some of the most common hospital administrative policies used in the healthcare space:
Most of the above policies are the minimum admin policies needed for any hospital and should be some of the first added to your health policy and procedure software..
In order to provide patients with the best care possible, hospitals and healthcare facilities put in place policies and procedures in order to ensure a consistent standard of care for all those being treated at their facilities. These policies are put in place to guarantee patients are treated as safely and efficiently as possible, and it is not an exaggeration to state that they are put in place to save lives.
As many hospitals have a variety of departments, from radiology, to oncology, to pediatrics, and everything in between, they need policies in place that are both specific to each department as well as more generalized policies used by the hospital at large. This way they can accomodate the needs of different patients while maintaining the safety and efficiency of the facility overall.
Common patient care policies used across departments would include:
The aforementioned policies should be shared with your staff through your chosen policy management software, and with your patients via email, mail, or in person.
The most valuable asset of any health or hospital facility is their people. The doctors, nurses, orderlies, maintenance workers, lab technicians, and other staff who help the hospital run, make up what is known as its human resources (HR). Hospital human resource policies are put in place by the hospital to protect these key resources by making sure they stay happy, safe, and in a work environment that is conducive to their best performance.
Just like corporate HR policies, the HR policies implemented by health facilities are in place to provide clear expectations on how staff is expected to act in certain situations, from taking time off, to interacting with patients, to how they behave toward other members of the team.
By adhering to the HR policies, both the staff and hospital can reduce incidents that need to be addressed by hospital administrators. Common HR policies found in hospitals and health facilities include:
Of course there are many HR policies that are specific to each hospital, and the most important should be the first to go in your hospital policy tracking software.
From potential exposures to hazardous materials, infections, and disease, to simple slips and falls - the medical profession has a much higher risk of injury than most other professions. That is why strict guidelines and procedures need to be in place at every facility in order to prevent staff and patients from these risks. Health and safety policies in the medical industry seek to reduce these risks when and if it is not possible to eliminate them entirely.
Health and safety policies deal with the handling of hazardous materials, protection from these hazards in terms of personal protective equipment (PPE), as well as providing clear guidance on steps to take in the event of exposure.
Common health and safety policies and procedures in the health industry include policies such as:
Simply put, you need health and safety policies to keep your staff and patients safe.
The last thing any healthcare facility wants is for medication (or drugs) to fall into the wrong hands. Not only is there a risk for theft of prescription drugs, but the wrong hands can also mean drugs given at an incorrect dosage, to someone who might suffer a severe interaction, or who simply does not need what is being given to them.
That is why drugs need to be carefully handled and secured in any medical facility, and only administered by trained professionals. Further, there should be strict policies in place with regards to how drugs are stored and dispensed to prevent mistakes or accidents from giving the wrong medication to the wrong person.
Some of the most common policies used is the medical field include:
These policies should be prioritized by any facility and they should be shared with attestation given before anyone has access to pharmaceuticals. Healthcare policy management software can help to automate this process.
There is nothing most people consider more private than their personal health issues. So it should not come as a surprise that legally speaking, personal health information is extremely well protected by law. In the United States the laws concerning medical privacy are covered by HIPAA, in the EU they are covered by GDPR, and in Canada by PIPEDA, just to name a few. Any institution who does not adequately protect patient data, or allows it to fall into the wrong hands, can be subject to large fines and financial penalties.
For that reason, along with the importance of establishing trust with patients, it is crucial that health professionals take every step possible to protect the privacy and personal information of the patients they serve. As such, most medical organizations have strict rules and policies, as well as data handling procedures in place, for dealing with the medical records and information that they have access to.
Some examples of policies that hospitals and other healthcare facilities put in place to protect patient data include:
Make sure that your staff is keeping patient data as confidential as possible by having robust healthcare privacy policies ready in your policy software.
If you are looking for a policy management software for your healthcare facility, you should know have the knowledge you need to find the right one and get it setup properly from the start.