Unsurprisingly, the burden of policy management in the healthcare industry is substantial. Our research revealed the following insights:
- Healthcare organizations are managing a significant number of policies. More than one fourth (29%) of survey respondents reported they are managing more than 1,000 unique policies, procedures and documents, and more than half (60%) are managing at least 250 documents.
- Although there are numerous stakeholders in the policy management process at most organizations, many healthcare organizations do not dedicate funds to policy management. Seven different departments are typically stakeholders in policy management at healthcare organizations. (Ethics and compliance and human resources [HR] are the most common stakeholders.) However, 40% of organizations either fund policy management through a general budget or provide no funding at all. This leaves those charged with policy management to draw on a general budget or compete for other organizational funds.
- Full time employee (FTE) resources for policy management are minimal. Nearly half (45%) of respondents report that their organizations allocate one FTE or less to policy management tasks.
- Half of respondents describe their current approach to policy management as “maturing.” For most, that means it is centralized but not automated. More than a quarter of respondents (28%) describe the approach as “advanced,” which includes standardized policy creation and review. Only 14% consider their current system “basic” or completely decentralized.
- The majority of respondents (55%) do not use any metrics to assess the effectiveness of their policy management program. Nearly one-third (30%) assess their systems based on ease of access to policies, 15% use a reduction in hard costs, and 3% track reductions in legal costs.
- Policy attestation is commonly required of employees, but less frequently required of vendors. Two thirds (66%) of respondents’ organizations require employees to attest to policies, but only 42% ask third party vendors to attest to policies.
- Only 27% of respondents said annual redistribution and re-acknowledgement was required. Half of the remaining organizations require “occasional” re-acknowledgement.
- Nearly half (46%) of respondents use specialized policy management software. Specialized software does appear to facilitate measurement of policy management execution for many healthcare organizations. Among other benefits, software users are much more likely to be able to track and report on their policy management effectiveness than non-software users.