Redesign workflows to make better use of precious staff resources

Step one in your cancer staffing makeover

Periodically review staff members’ activities to understand how they're spending their time.

With widespread process improvement efforts, new IT systems, and changes in services and treatments, cancer programs are evolving their operations faster than ever.

But when you change your processes, you’re changing how staff spend their time—with an inevitable impact on roles and responsibilities.

Successful programs periodically review staff members’ activities to understand how they're spending their time. Identify those best-suited to perform specialized roles and reallocate accordingly.

Engage your team to map patient flow and identify problems

When Gundersen Lutheran Medical Center, a 313-bed hospital in La Crosse, Wisconsin, sensed that its staffing model was falling short, leaders gathered staff representatives from its medical oncology clinic, hematology clinic, and infusion center to map out patient flow in each area.

The exercise revealed several problems with the staffing model at the clinics, whose physicians were supported by a team of four physician assistants (PAs), two clinic nurses, and a group of chemo nurses—all floating among the clinics as needed.

Identifying these problems allowed Gundersen to map out the ideal patient flow and reassign roles to maximize staff members’ individual contributions.

The cancer program ultimately reassembled its staff into four teams each consisting of two or three physicians, one PA, one RN, two medical assistants, and a dedicated scheduler. Each staff member was assigned to work in one area, floating only if there was a special need.

To ensure a smooth transition, the cancer center instituted weekly meetings for each of the four teams, where staff could discuss patients in the upcoming week’s schedule, work through team issues, and discuss roles and responsibilities.

Next: Focus your staff on high-value activities

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