Vic hospital puts compliance online

When Stuart McFarlane considered the problem of getting more than a 1000 healthcare staff to comply with and understand some 900 policies, he knew the existing manual system would no longer cut it.

IT manager at Northeast Health Wangaratta (NHW), a hospital providing medical services for around 90,000 people in 28 towns in rural Victoria, McFarlane selected a Web-based management application to handle the task.

"The old system was completely manual [and] while we had the mechanisms for developing policy, we simply couldn't make sure they were being read let alone understood," McFarlane said.

He said the company needed a system to route specific policies to departments, ensure they were read and understood and allow staff to leave feedback.

We needed to push specific policies to 1053 users, ensure they were being read and understood and provide a mechanism to get feedback, he said.

Several vendors were approached, but McFarlane said most packages were excessive and 'bigger than Ben Hur'.

"There were a lot of packages that tried to do everything - we didn't want a complete system, just fair and square policy development and adoption," he said.

McFarlane chose NetIQ's ViglEnt Policy Center, because of its policy distribution, evaluation and ease of comprehension as an in-house, Web-based solution.

"Part of the attraction was its simplicity; we didn't want to build a new system," McFarlane said. "We also had a suite of NetIQ products already so we knew it would fit into our existing infrastructure."

The system, which staff access via NHW's computers and user log-on IDs, is split into two facets - Compliance Reporting, and policy comprehension.

The initial component allows documents to be marked as compulsory, requiring staff verification, or general information to assist comprehension, while the latter uses quizzes to test staff understanding of policies.

While McFarlane did not disclose the application cost, he said NHW's commercial operations divisions will use if for survey distribution and response collation.

"Our commercial operation divisions will use it for their twice-yearly surveys which normally take a long time to complete," he said. "Since the Policy Center is Web-based, it will speed things up considerably."

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