In today’s environment where public health advice, legislation and guidance is constantly evolving and changing, having an electronic system to manage document control, particularly for policies and procedures is now more important than ever as our healthcare workers require immediate access to up to date information.
Q-Pulse is a Quality Management Information System (QMIS) used by many healthcare organisations in Ireland & Northern Ireland for document control as well as many other quality activities such as audits, risk management, incident management and Quality Improvement Plans (QIPs). In terms of Document Control, Q-Pulse essentially acts as an electronic storage facility for all documents as well as a tool to manage the life cycle of important documents such as policies and procedures. When a staff member wants a document, they can use Q-Pulse to quickly find the most up-to-date version. Furthermore, when a document needs to be updated, this can be done through the Q-Pulse system.
In this blog post we discuss the six distinct, but interrelated stages to the document life cycle and outline why a Quality Management Information System (QMIS) such as Q-Pulse supports the evolving needs of document management in the healthcare sector.
Stages of the Document Life Cycle
Stage 1: Creating the draft document
The first stage of the document life cycle is to develop the document. Examples of documents include forms, or policies and procedures. Prior to the development of any document, approval must be sought. Once approval has been given, a project group should be established to develop the document. In the case of policy and procedure development, the project group should focus on completing a literature review of best practice, including relevant standards, professional guidelines and legislation then consult relevant stakeholders, and review organisational goals and risk assessments.
Stage 2: Review of Draft Document
Once the Project Group is satisfied with the draft document it can be sent to key individuals for review. Draft documents should be initially reviewed and approved by the Line Manager who initially approved their development. Once they, and the Project Group, are satisfied with the draft it shall be sent for approval.
How Q-Pulse helps: When a draft document is created and reviewed it can be uploaded to the Q-Pulse system to be approved and circulated electronically. It is important to remember that you do not create the document in Q-Pulse, but rather Q-Pulse acts as a database, and assists you to manage information when it is in there. Q-Pulse accepts documents from whatever package is used, e.g. Word, Excel, PowerPoint, PDF, etc.
Stage 3: Approval
Document approvers must be people of sufficient seniority to either approve or reject the document. Approval of documents can be a method of improving governance within the organisation. Where senior managers in the organisation have ultimate approval of documents, this means that they are formally and routinely informed of the processes occurring within the organisation. Always identify individuals as named approvers. It is poor practice for committees to be the sole approvers of policies and procedures – this reduces the ownership of the documents.
How Q-Pulse helps: The owner of the document can upload the draft document to Q-Pulse and can submit it to the appropriate approver(s) for review. When the document is submitted to the approver(s) they will receive an email notification alerting them to review and approve the document.
Stage 4: Activate Document
When documents have been approved, they are ready for activation. Activation is the process for moving the document from a draft copy, to a live document. Thus, it is important that it is managed correctly, and by persons who shall ensure that it is completed.
How Q-Pulse helps: When the approver receives an email to alter them of the draft document they can log into Q-Pulse and access the document for review. Here they have the power to approve or reject the draft. Once approved the document can be moved from the draft register to the active register.
Stage 5: Distribution and Communication of Document
When a document has been activated it needs to be distributed and communicated to staff. Acknowledgement by staff should be documented to show that staff have received communication regarding the document and that they are aware of it and its impact on their work.
How Q-Pulse helps: Q-Pulse allows you to send an email notification to staff to say that a new document has been activated and they are required to log into Q-Pulse to view and acknowledge the document.
Stage 6: Continuous Review
All documents should undergo review. Review periods can vary, the national recommendation is 3 years. However, documents owners should consider changes to practice, legislation, standards or request from an external regulatory body and how this may impact the policy and procedure. Documents for review should follow the same process outlined above. Changes should be summarised at the end of the document and clearly communicated to staff.
How Q-Pulse helps: Documents in Q-Pulse have a set review period. In advance of the review period, Q-Pulse can send an email notification to the document owner to alert them that the document is due for review. This reminds document owners to review the document in sufficient time. Q-Pulse also has a change request feature on documents that allows staff to alert the document owner of a proposed change such as new guidance or legislation.
Why use an electronic system for document control?
Effective document control and management is crucial in all sectors, particularly healthcare where staff need quick access to important documents like policies and procedures. It is also important from a compliance perspective that healthcare organisations have effective document control practices in place.
Using a paper-based system to manage documents can often be tedious and lead to longer development and distribution times for important documents. Having an electronic system such as Q-Pulse streamlines the process whereby documents are created, reviewed and approved. It is a much more efficient and time-effective way for healthcare organisations to management their documents.
Benefits of Using Q-Pulse for Document Control
- Allows you to search and quickly find the documents that you need.
- Document module also has mobile capability, allowing you to view, read and acknowledge active documents instantly on a handheld device while on the move.
- Ensures that only up-to-date documents are available.
- Allows staff to request changes to documents in an easy manner.
- Allows the creation, revision and update of documents to be done primarily through the Q-Pulse system.
- Reduction of staff meetings and face to face discussions in the review and approval of Policies and Procedures.
- Improves governance and monitoring of documents.
- Improves compliance due to audit trail of staff acknowledgement of policy and procedures.
- Improves communication with staff.
- Results in less rework and saves time!
Health Care Informed (HCI) and Q-Pulse
HCI is proud to be Ideagen’s healthcare partners on the island of Ireland. We provide a complete support service for Ideagen’s Q-Pulse clients in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland with the implementation of Q-Pulse and the ongoing administration of the system and training of users. If you would like more information on Q-Pulse Document Control Module or any other Q-Pulse Module contact HCI.