By Christina Cook
Mennonite Village is a 275-acre continuing care retirement community that serves approximately 700 residents in the small northwest Oregon town of Albany. With 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 crucial to the way the community runs. However, there was no comprehensive solution to manage these policies; a combination of a paper binder and Excel spreadsheets took an exorbitant amount of time to manage. While this problem may sound antiquated, it’s common in healthcare settings like Mennonite Village.
This is one example of why the adoption rate of cloud computing and software-as-a-service technologies in the healthcare industry are on the rise, growing at a rate of 20 percent per year. Additionally, the cloud computing market is estimated to hit $51.9 billion by 2024 – a significant increase from $23.4 billion in 2019. The COVID-19 pandemic has pushed this trend forward, adding pressure to the need for a more remote and flexible solution to manage healthcare policies and maintain compliance.
Reducing Risk and Maintaining Compliance
For Mennonite Village’s corporate compliance and risk manager, Arielle Schultz, setting out to reduce the organization’s risk while finding an effective, efficient way to manage policies was top of mind prior to the pandemic.
Mennonite Village has an internal policy that requires each policy document be reviewed and approved on an annual basis. However, without a policy management system in place, it 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. Because the process was completely manual, if an employee was out sick or on vacation, it was easy for these changes to pile up.
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.
A Better Way
Despite being a compliance and risk professional, Schultz wasn’t familiar with cloud-based policy and compliance management until she attended a webinar. She was impressed by the technology’s capability to provide a central location where all employees at every level could access, review, and sign off on policies, and view training videos and other educational content.
After selecting and implementing a cloud-based policy and compliance management solution, Schultz’s entire team at Mennonite Village knew exactly where to find the most current version of every policy, and could access them remotely. Changes to policies were able to be tracked, updated and finalized in near real-time, improving the community’s ability to reduce risk and improve compliance, and what used to take 40 minutes per document is now tracked automatically and takes less than 5 minutes per policy. Frontline workers also 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 COVID-19 Pandemic
While not an anticipated benefit, Mennonite Village’s SaaS technology implementation proved to be crucial when COVID-19 hit.
Healthcare administration and frontline workers were faced with more challenges than ever before. There was a need to create many 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 policy and compliance management system to make this happen. It was able to use 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 importantly, 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 ultimately reduced liability and provided added protection and quality of care to the community’s residents.
Improved Compliance and Quality of Care
Between the time, resources, and printing costs, the SaaS policy and compliance management system has paid for itself. Schultz estimates the software saved Mennonite Village more than $300,000. More importantly, leveraging a SaaS policy and compliance management system provided her and her team with the power to do what they do best – help build an effective compliance and risk management program to protect the organization and the people they serve at a time when it has never been more important.
Christina Cook is a marketing manager at PowerDMS, a cloud-based policy and compliance management platform that protects high-trust organizations from liability. Forged in the public sector, PowerDMS serves 4,200+ public and private sector organizations worldwide.