The importance of version control in healthcare policy development
- Written by Amy Dinsmore
- April 11 2016
Innovation is a difficult balancing act in health care. Finding ways to develop better practices and procedures can save lives, but making mistakes along the way can reduce the quality of care. The healthcare sector is understandably conservative considering this challenging situation, but new technologies and operational capabilities are pushing hospitals, physician offices and clinics to create new policies.
One of the major challenges facing healthcare organizations establishing new policies is the need to get many stakeholders involved in the effort. Clinical staff, legal experts, administrators, patient advocates, technology leaders and other stakeholders all need to have a say in policies if they are going to be able to cover the wide range of circumstances that can arise. This creates a huge document management challenge as you must ensure individuals working on the policy are always looking at the most recent version of the document and that you can produce an earlier edition as needed.
Overcoming version management challenges
Moving away from paper-based processes is a critical first step when streamlining version management. It is much easier to share new iterations of policies – especially when small changes are being made – when you can distribute the file via email or a web-based software. Going digital, on its own, is a good first step toward simplifying version control. A few small measures that can complement this tactic include:
- Standardizing file-naming conventions so you can easily track different policy versions
- Tracking changes across documents so you can easily revert to earlier versions of the policy text as needed
- Making sure all stakeholders understand how to effectively interact with digital documents
These steps into the digital world can be taken to another level when using dedicated document management software.
Taking version control to another level
A cost-efficient document management software platform can offer vital capabilities that help you manage versions with greater ease. These tools let you upload a document into the software, send alerts to users authorized to collaborate on the document, have them make edits or comments, alert you when users have made suggestions and let you edit the file. The software will maintain all of the versions of the policy for you and ensure that it only sends the most recent version to stakeholders as you make updates. At the same time, everybody with authorization can view the document history.
As healthcare organizations strive to update policies in light of new industry demands, they can use contemporary document management capabilities to simplify version control, allowing them to streamline policy innovation.