Center for Improvement in Healthcare Quality Newsletter
April 2022

CIHQ-ARS Article

Digitizing the Compliance Cycle

An article provided by PowerDMS
Anyone who’s worked in the healthcare regulatory compliance field understands their day-to-day responsibilities are the definition of insanity. Doing the same things over and over (under the auspices of being EBP) but expecting different results. See if this image resonates with you:
While repeating steps 1-5 for hundreds of standards day in and day out, you are also praying the Surveyors don’t walk in the door before you find all the copies of the last update, or before the PRN staffing pool has been trained.
Why do organizations stay in this insanity loop? Because in 2021 alone, federal funding (Medicare, Medicaid, etc.) accounted for over 50% of most hospitals’ budgetary revenue, who for the first time in years saw their profit margins drop from an average of 2.4% to barely 0.5% (Statica.com). Federal funding has a history of keeping the proverbial lights on.
The great news is there are policy and accreditation management technologies designed to mitigate inefficiencies, improve chaotic workflows, and establish a culture of living compliance.
Common features of these systems include:
  1. Content Repository: A content repository is the foundation of policy management software. It stores all of your policies and procedures in one place, giving you a single source for policy, procedure, and training information.
    Any healthcare policy management software worth its salt will offer a cloud-based service that makes policies available anytime, anywhere. This also makes it more efficient to make changes, and to ensure that all policies are updated.
  2. Automated Workflows: Whether you are managing policies for a massive healthcare system or for one department within a larger organization, you need to collaborate with others to create policies and update them regularly. And once policies are updated, they need to be shared.
    To manage these processes efficiently, you need software with a workflow feature. Expect to be able to see stakeholder approvals, comments, and rejections on documents.
  3. Staff Compliance Capture, Testing, and Tracking: When managing policies and compliance, the ability to assign, test, track, and collate signatures on important documents is essential. This builds a culture of accountability, protects your healthcare facility from liability, and helps prove compliance to accreditation standards. While this can be done on paper, it’s incredibly tedious and manual.
  4. Version Control: Version control is a key element of policy and compliance management, providing a single source of truth for your policies. Version control allows you to track and review the history of revisions of any policy to show who made changes, and when. It ensures that only one version of every policy is published at a time, meaning staff can’t access outdated information.
  5. Accreditation Management: The accreditation process can be cumbersome and time intensive. Each software system includes some level of assistance in navigating that process. This includes managing critical documents, conducting/documenting mock survey activity, and facilitating non-compliance risk reporting.
The more advanced systems, such as PowerDMS, also provide additional features that elevate the living compliance culture in high reliability organizations:
  1. 24/7 policy access via mobile platforms (phone, tablets), enhancing staff accountability and access to organizational policies and procedures.
  2. Robust partner relationships with accrediting bodies such as CIHQ, enabling integration of standards into policies. The biggest benefit of this integration is immediate notification of how standard changes impact your organizational policies/procedures/plans.
  3. Analytics platform that allows real-time reporting of organizational compliance and identification of areas of accreditation risk. Fortunately, there are solutions available that make the complex process of policy and accreditation management much simpler. An effective solution helps you improve consistency of care, simplify compliance and accreditation, and protect 50+% of your organization’s annual revenue. How will you end the cycle of insanity in your organization?