By Christina Cook, marketing manager, PowerDMS.
Healthcare providers account for some of the most crucial organizations in the country. And while most provide unparalleled care to patients and residents, there is often a disconnect between the quality of care provided, and the management of some administrative functions like policy management.
Mennonite Village, a 275-acre continuing care retirement community in the small northwest Oregon town of Albany, knew this first-hand. With 700 residents and five lines of service, including independent living, nursing/rehab, assisted living, memory care, and in-home services, Mennonite has more than 1,300 policies that are integral to the way the community runs.
But with no comprehensive solution to manage these policies, they were using a combination of a paper binder and Excel spreadsheets, and the management of the policies took an inordinate amount of time. While this may seem antiquated, it’s not unique. It’s also easily remedied using technology, and more healthcare organizations are turning to cloud-based solutions to manage policies than ever before.
The adoption rate of software-as-a-service technologies in healthcare are growing at a rate of 20 percent per year. Also, the cloud computing market is estimated to hit $51.9 billion by 2024 – up from$23.4 billion in 2019. The COVID-19 pandemic has further driven this trend, adding pressure to the need for a remote and flexible solution to manage healthcare policies and maintain compliance.
For Mennonite Village this has been an impactful change.
Setting Out to Reduce Organizational Risk
Even prior to the pandemic, Mennonite Village’s corporate compliance and risk manager, Arielle Schultz, knew they needed to find an effective, efficient way to manage policies and reduce risk. Their internal procedures required that each policy document must be reviewed and approved on an annual basis and before implementing a policy management system, this process took 40 minutes per policy to simply edit, route, and print the file. With 1,300 total policies, that amounted to more than 36 workdays just moving documents around, and if an employee was out for sickness or vacation, the process quickly became backlogged.
Schultz and her team needed a solution that could make their processes more efficient, was easy to use and could hold staff accountable. For Schultz, SaaS technology was the answer.
Turning to the Cloud
Schultz first learned about the benefits of cloud-based policy and compliance management during a webinar she attended, and was impressed by the ability to provide a central location where all employees could access, review, and sign off on policies, and view training videos and other educational content.
Soon after, they chose and implemented a cloud-based solution and the entire team was quickly able to find and access the most current version of every policy. Policy changes were easily tracked, updated and finalized in near real-time, improving the community’s ability to reduce risk and improve compliance. What used to take 40 minutes per document is now tracked automatically and takes less than 5 minutes per policy. They were also able to access files remotely and for frontline workers this was key. They became engaged in the process, with a slew of knowledge now at their fingertips, which contributed to improved quality of care for residents.
Adapting to the Pandemic
Schultz didn’t realize how important this would become in 2020, when COVID-19 hit the world.
Mennonite Village and healthcare workers around the world were faced with more challenges than ever before. There was a need to create and distribute new policies, such as visitation, emergency staffing, testing, return to work, immunization, cleaning, and protective use of equipment. It was critical that the community rapidly adapt to a new environment, from the healthcare workers on the front lines and the administrative professionals to the maintenance team. Rapid creation and implementation of these new policies was incredibly important to keeping residents and employees at Mennonite Village safe and healthy.
When the pandemic hit, Mennonite Village’s corporate compliance team immediately turned to its cloud-based policy and compliance management system to make this happen. It used the system as a central hub for all COVID-19 information, including new and updated policies as well as educational materials, such as videos, to support the proper implementation of each policy.
Most notably, because the SaaS-based system had the ability to track compliance for each policy, the corporate compliance team could automatically trigger each document for signatures to ensure they were read and understood. This reduced liability and provided added protection and quality of care to the community’s residents.
A Win-Win: Protecting the Organization, its Employees and its Patients
Between the time, resources, and printing costs, the SaaS policy and compliance management system has paid for itself, and quality of care was positively impacted. Schultz estimates that Mennonite Village has saved more than $300,000 since implementing the software. And beyond the cost savings, the system was able to help Schultz and her team do what they do best – protect the organization and the people they serve at a time when it has never been more important.