Webinar Tidbits - Episode 1 - Defining Policies and Procedures

Introducing our newest series of educational video content, Webinar Tidbits. Instead of having to sit through and watch hundreds of hours of our past webinars, we will do the hard work for you and release these short videos that summarize the highlights of each of our past webinars.

For our first episode, we revisited the first webinar of our Building Towards Successful Policy Management series with IntraVires Healthcare Compliance Consultants "Having a Policy on Policies". The entire webinar was to help explain how to lay the foundation for establishing sound policies and procedures. Of course, in order even begin to establish sound policies and procedures, an organization must be able to understand the difference between the two and how they coexist with each other.

Defining Policy

So one key distinction that we like to make is the difference between policy and procedure. So policy is really a high level statement of the organization’s philosophies, principles, and intent which is why they reflect the Mission, Vision, and Values. For instance, a policy statement might say “it is the policy of the organization to protect the privacy and confidentiality of protected health information.” An associated procedure would determine how the organization implements that policy. Senior leaders are generally the ones who develop the procedures, but they can delegate it to teams who reform the procedures. In this case the senior leader is a sponsor and the team’s leader would be the author. 

Policies Support Business Excellence

Policies and procedures promote compliance, but one thing that they also do is drive business performance and business excellence. They do this by communicating the company's philosophy, intent, and expectations. They also provide material for training and standardization across the company. They ensure alignment with the organization’s Mission and Values. The policies and procedures also establish an understanding for better compliance with applicable laws, regulations, and standards. And they promote safety, consistency, efficiency, and best practices all around 

Strong Policies

Strong policies close loopholes and manage risk. A standard reduces variation, it increases compliance, and may reduce liability. Strong policies also encourage the recording of any procedure misconduct. A strong policy process helps everyone know or reference the “Rules of the Road”, therefore reduces misconduct and improves employee engagement.

Risks with Policy

Without the strong policy process, stakeholders could find that internal controls are weak and the could lead to potential audit risks or audit findings or even a basis for liability or noncompliance. Inaccurate policies can cause unintentional violations because folks would be following an inaccurate policy or procedure. A lack of clarity in policies can cause needless work or re-work. Clear policies on the other hand foster cleaner work processes with fewer defects. If the policies are aligned with all the standard operating procedures or more daily operations, outdated policies can perpetuate outdated or incorrect procedures.

If you would like to watch the entire Policy on Policies webinar, you can do so by clicking the play button on the video below.