People sometimes ask, how often should I review my policies? When there’s been a change to legislation or more frequently? Will every two years be okay? What we all know, though, is that it’s a necessity – we may not like it, but it has to be done (sigh). The significance of policy review was highlighted in an article written for Forbes Magazine by Ben Kerschberg: “No policy can be effective unless it is carefully monitored and revised (i.e. maintained) if necessary upon regular reviews (e.g. monthly or annually)”.
But how do you approach it? Do you opt for a sprint – that is, all policies to be reviewed at the same time? Or do you adopt a marathon approach – a steady, methodical review over time (instead of miles).
A logical approach would to be to sub-categorise all the policies and then share out the workload… but we know that this may take longer as it will add to individuals’ already heavy workloads. However, you shouldn’t be reviewing all policies, and certainly when it comes to clinical policies, you’ve a range of clinicians who will be only too willing to help (written with just a hint of sarcasm).
If you consider the marathon approach, there are a number of ways you can go about this. You may prefer to alphabetise your list of policies and work through the list, or you may have them in date order and review them from oldest to newest. I could go on listing methods of review, but there really is no need. What is needed, however, is an effective approach to policy management.
Why? Well, let’s not forget that policies are written for a reason; they drive governance and compliance, they aren’t written for the sake of it! So, in order for your policies to have the desired effect, they need to be current, reflect the needs of the practice and be accessible to all staff. They are, after all, a useful management tool.
What do we know so far? It’s safe to say that in general practice we know that no two practices are the same, and not all have the same policies in place, often due to the varying needs of the patient population. So a universal approach could be deemed unrealistic. However, what would be beneficial and applicable to all practices is a defined process whereby policy review becomes routine, not a sprint and certainly not a headache. But for any systematic review to be effective, you’ll need to know what policies you have in place. So that’s where I’ll begin. Ideally, the process of policy review needs to be as stress-free as possible, without giving you a headache!
Add your policies to this free spreadsheet and try to input as much information as possible and next month’s article (blog number two) will look at how you can turn that one list into a much more manageable workload.
For now, I’ll leave you with this: “A true professional not only follows but loves the processes, policies and principles set by his profession” – Amit Kalantri.
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