Health Policy Defined
Healthcare is one of the most regulated professions/services by all and sundry. Hospitals and facilities put in place very stringent policies to dictate how, when, and where health care should be administered. Governments carry the greater obligation to register rules, laws, and regulations through constitutionally-approved parliaments, courts, ministries, agencies, and departments.
Healthcare policies are composite. They define all areas within hospitals, public facilities, sanitation centers, water distribution, environmental management, transport, businesses – literally every aspect of life that is visited by a human being. We shall look at those ones but first, let us define healthcare policy.
What is Healthcare Policy?
Healthcare policy is a set of rules, laws, regulations, procedures, and decisions implemented in a particular health setting, region, country, or any section and fullness of the world, geared towards informing and directing healthcare officers and the greater public to achieve better healthcare standards and attain specific healthcare goals.
Healthcare policy is set by various stakeholders, top of which is the government. Furthermore, governments that align to specific regional health regulatory bodies subscribe to the policies of that body, for instance many countries (at least UN member countries) carry the policies provided by the World Health Organization (WHO) into their healthcare systems.
Within governments there are many stakeholders that do the regulation and policy setting on behalf of the government. These are legislative bodies such as the parliament who append government decisions in to law, judicial institutions such as courts which interpret policies, and make rulings on the case of specific policies, ministries which provide rather suggestive and advisory frameworks for the public to observe, and agencies that develop the laws and regulations on behalf of the government and through the defined legal guidelines.
Organizations to which healthcare facilities and practitioners belong also prescribe policies to be observed within these facilities. Workers unions mandate hospitals to observe policies governing the treatment and convenience of their member workers, while hospital unions require member hospitals to observe particular healthcare administration policies.
Importance of Healthcare Policy
- Efficient healthcare administration
Policies describe the roles for everyone, detail the procedures observed in healthcare administration, and explain how patients, drugs, and information should be handled. Without these policies, healthcare facilities would turn chaotic and have many obstructions of speed.
- Safety for all
Part of health care policy are the safety and precautions to be observed during the administration of treatment. These measures are observed to sterilize healthcare administered to the patients, protect the healthcare practitioner in the process, and seal the greater public from health hazards and pandemics.
- Enhanced environment for healing and health management
Healthcare cannot be separated from the environment, and patients become what the environment consists of. Environmental healthcare policies prevent the contracting and spread of particular diseases, and eliminate factors that deny patients the much needed comfort to attain health success.
- Prudent resource management
By detailing how infrastructure, supplies, and other resources should be handled, healthcare policy fosters optimal performance of available resources. Drug handling policy makes clear the potions to be made available at a given time, machine handling policies dictate who is cleared to handle medical machinery, and accountability policies rationalize spending by various stakeholders.
- A conducive working experience
Health policy reserves a prominent concern for the healthcare staff – the most important asset in the industry. In return, employees get an experience of their lifetime, and are psyched up to relinquish their mandate of delivering quality care to those who need it.
Types/subcategories of Healthcare Policies
Patient care policy
Healthcare policy is focused towards composite goals, but patient care remains the primary aim for the establishment of healthcare institutions and the formalization of healthcare policy. Patient care is comprehensive, and departs from the specific range of services rendered by a particular healthcare facility.
Patient care sets up the procedural framework for the handling of patients, how they are treated, the management of diseases, treatment conditions, and the laws as to the decisions made by the patient. Policies within the realm of patient care include treatment, nutrition and dietetics, patient’s rights and obligations, abuse and mistreatment, and admission and discharge.
Health and safety policies
Healthcare policies define the spectrum of guidelines dedicated for observing a healthy environment and managing safety for everyone. Patients require a safe and clean environment for successful and speedy healing. Policy frameworks establish specific safety procedures to be observed when handling patients in order to prevent infections to the already sick patient, and to protect healthcare staff from health hazards. Within safety policies are protocols for Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs) – how and when to use them.
Drug Handling and Pharmacy Policies
Pharmacy is a critical wing to patient care, by managing the administration of medication relevant for successful and risk-free treatment. Preservation of the quality of drugs is key, as specific instructions have to be followed as prescribed by the manufacturer.
Drugs need their storage prioritized, transport and logistics properly managed, administration to be in order, and safe disposal of drugs after they serve their purpose or lose their quality either by expiry or contamination. Through drugs handling policies, pharmacists are mandated to account for all procurements, prescriptions, and supply of drugs to both inpatients and outpatients.
Workplace policy and code of ethics
It is paramount that every workplace irrespective of the industry, enacts particular guidelines to streamline performance, foster workplace relationships, and attend to the needs of employees. In health settings it is all the same as long as safety and security concerns are well addressed. Code of ethics is a composite framework for the professional conduct of the staff, and may define reactions to unprecedented cases, avoiding impulsive and non-informed decision making. Employee code of ethics is planted deep into the organizational culture for efficient adherence.
Data and information security
Patients relinquish sensitive data to healthcare handlers for healthcare purposes, data that would be very detrimental if it lands on the wrong hands, and when used for nefarious purposes other than healthcare administration. Data protection policies detail the amount of data allowed to be collected from patients, the use of patient information, and how the data should be stored. If the worst happens and patient information leaks, the brunt is potentially heavier on the hospital/facility and risk legal retributions.
Policies are instrumental for service delivery in all industries, but it is in the health sector where policy is arguably most paramount. When the lives of people are on the line, every responsible institution, organization, or agency ought to jump in and give their bit in policy making. Healthcare policies are regulations, and ought to be followed without question.