Policy Management System Implementation Starts Long Before Roll-out

Policy Management System

project-managementLast week I had an opportunity to work closely with an amazing internal project lead at one of our clients on a multi facility implementation of HospitalPortal.net policy and procedure software. Even though we have implemented our policy manager at numerous hospital sites, both large and small, working side by side with a highly experienced project manager further emphasized some of the best practices for ensuring a successful enterprise wide policy management system installation.

Planning and preparation

The most important part of a successful P&P system implementation is the preparation and planning phase that needs to start weeks ahead of the planned roll-out. It’s not uncommon for a hospital to have thousands of departmental and house wide policies, procedures and forms. An inventory of these documents needs to be created, owners and responsibilities assigned, duplicate policies removed or consolidated, and content formatted to match up-to-date templates and specifications. It may be an enormous task, given the number of documents and decisions that often need to be made on a case by case basis. The process of identifying, cleaning up, consolidating and organizing these documents may take weeks. The fact is, policy review and management is not necessarily the most exciting task and usually policy owners have many other competing responsibilities which further prolongs this process. In my recent implementation, the internal project lead not only started this process weeks in advance, but also clearly set expectations, deadlines and provided various excel and project management templates for policy owners to track the scope and progress of their work.

Project ownership

The importance of having a strong leader as well as a facilitator for an enterprise software rollout cannot be understated. As a vendor, HospitalPortal.net provides assistance throughout our implementation life cycle. However, as a vendor we don’t have direct access to internal hospital staff and departments directly responsible for the pre-implementation preparation. An internal project lead that both understands the scope and effort of such a project and can guide others through the pre-implementation tasks, especially in a large facility implementation, is truly invaluable. This not only includes monitoring completion of project managment related tasks, but more importantly providing first level assistance as well as serving as a sounding board for many decisions that will need to be made. Having and internal project lead prevents the project efforts from being derailed and keeps everyone involved (including the vendor) aligned around project objectives.

The system will not replace solid practices

Another great lesson that my most recent experienced emphasized, is the importance of developing solid practices for policy approval routing way ahead of the system go live date. The policy managemen software automates and simplifies policy approval routing and handling. However, for the system to work correctly, these routes and workflows must be examined and defined.

Plan for other aspects of P&P management

Lastly, there are other aspects that need to be taken under consideration to lay the groundwork for a robust document management system implementation. This includes understanding the legal and educational aspects of house wide or departmental policies. The P&P system will not automatically address all legal aspects of policy publishing, Beware that correct staff must be assigned as approvers and policies must be set to be reviewed based on specific regulatory guidelines. Similarly, education needs and staff training must also be considered when a policy is undergoing a revision. Many policies may require extensive staff training or retraining when a policy is created or revised. If such training or educational materials need to be developed in a separate learning management system, most likely this will add additional time to policy approval and publishing process. Therefore, a policy publishing process and review dates must allow for these ancillary tasks to take place.

There is no question, a hospital wide policy and procedure system roll-out is a large tasks. But as I learned firsthand on my most recent implementation visit, if it’s internally planned and managed correctly – even in a large hospital setting – it certainly will turn into a success story.

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