The purpose of a policy or health care procedure is to provide standardisation in daily operational activities. Policies and procedures provide clarity when dealing with issues and activities that are critical to health and safety, legal liabilities and regulatory requirements that have serious consequences.
A policy is a general plan of action used to guide the desired outcome. It is a guideline or rule used to make decisions. The purpose of a policy is to communicate to employees the desired outcomes of the organisation. Policies are usually broad, state what has to be achieved and why and answer major operational issues. Policies help employees understand their roles and responsibilities within the organisation.
Procedures are the implementation of policy. They are specific steps used to achieve the policy. Procedures are used to guide operations without managers having to micromanage employees. They are developed to be user specific; each position will have its own set of operational procedures. Procedures state how and when steps need to take place to achieve the goals in an organisation.
Standardised policies and procedures in health care have been shown to provide better patient care, better outcomes and lower mortality rates. Policies and procedures improve efficiency and effectiveness in health care.