The Three-Step Cancer Staffing Makeover

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Growing demand for cancer services. Looming shortages of oncologists. Pressures on operating margins. The transition to value-based payment models.

It’s clear why cancer programs are rethinking their approach to care delivery. But it won’t be enough to just create more efficient workflows. You must also fundamentally redesign your staffing model to make the most of every individual on your team.

Hiring new staff won’t be the answer for most programs. Instead, it’s time to find creative ways to accommodate growing workloads and escalating treatment complexity— without compromising quality or adding staffing costs.

We’ve seen that successful programs take three critical actions, outlined here.

A Three-Part Makeover for Your Staffing Plan

Redesign workflows to maximize precious staff resources

  • Engage your team to map patient flow and identify problems
  • Envision the ideal flow—and the staff responsibilities needed to support it


Focus your staff on the highest-value activities

  • Use a scope-of-practice matrix to cascade responsibilities
  • Consider non-clinician roles, too
  • Collect time stamps to pinpoint the cause of delays


Make sure you have the right number of staff on any given day

  • Develop an acuity-based staffing plan that fits your center
  • Calculate the appropriate workload for a single nurse
  • Plan, adjust, and adjust again
  • Collect volumes and acuity data over time to justify additional FTEs


But First, Know Your Weak Spots

If your cancer program has made operational changes in recent years (whose hasn’t?), then your staffing needs to follow suit. What’s the best way to pinpoint your institution’s biggest improvement opportunities? We recommend combining several approaches for a comprehensive assessment.

Next: Find your improvement opportunities