Reviewing Policies and Procedures at Your Medical Practice

August 4, 2012

How are your policies and procedures driven? Here are some great tools for identifying a problem area at your medical practice.

Reviewing your policies and procedures can seem a bit daunting, if not boring. But to understand the hows and whys, those particular procedures were written can really help you identify some areas in your practice that may need some polishing!

Most often when dealing with challenges and issues, it's easier to create a policy that addresses the employee behavior or snafu in your systems than it is to directly confront the problem. What ends up happening though is your office policies and procedures become a bit convoluted.

Here are some questions to ask when reviewing your policies and procedures and what to do with the information:

1. How many do you have? Is this number correlate-able to your practice size?

2. When reviewing, keep the following thoughts in mind:
• Did I create this because of a systems problem? (i.e., computer systems)
• Did I create this because of a billing problem? (internal or outsourced)
• Did I create this because of a personnel problem? (employee behavior)
• Did I create this because I need to obtain the information to make business decisions?

If every time you have a problem, a new policy is created, then you need to step back and ask why it was created. Find the real reason, and address that; it may not warrant a policy.

If most of your policies are driven by the first three questions listed under question number two above, then it's time to take a closer look at each of those categories.

Let's start with the systems problem area. If you are not moving towards an EHR system, now is probably a good time to think about integrating that in. If your policies and procedures are written due to a lack of functionality of your current computer system, then there is a larger issue to identify, approach, and resolve.

If you have a lot of policies and procedures written due to problems in the billing area of your practice, it's time to look at that objectively. Are they written due to lack of communication between your staff and the billing staff? If so, try to find new ways of communicating and exchanging information.

Are a majority of your policies and procedures written because of employee issues? Writing a policy for the entire business due to one employee's behavior is not ideal. Approach the employee and resolve the issue first. If you find that a majority of your employees do need a policy to guide them in this area, then leave it in. But, first rule of thumb is not to punish the masses, but to resolve the problem with the individual.

When making business decisions, you rely on accurate information to assist you in coming up with a workable plan. Business statistics and financial information need to have solid, easy to understand procedures, and those need to be followed in order to obtain and utilize that information.

Regardless of why a policy or procedure was written, it is a good idea to review these twice a year, as some of them may no longer be valid, and some may have morphed into others. Keeping on top of the why will provide you and your staff with a set of clear and understandable functional tools.

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