On the level of practice, protocols are usually clinical procedures which support best clinical practices. These protocols provide guidelines for standardizing operations in departments, such as infection control and patient flow. The protocols can also include information on documentation and the ordering of medical supplies.
Each state sets its own standards for the provision of healthcare that providers must meet in order to be licensed. This is because the scope of regulation at this level can be more comprehensive than that for the individual practice.
At the federal level, policy is created through various organizations such as Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) which sets out broad regulations on topics like reimbursement rates, patient privacy rights ,and provider oversight procedures. This is to create uniformity between states, while also protecting against abuse of government funded programs.