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Making CAP workload recording work for you.

Making CAP workload recording work for you

A reliable productivity management system that reflects all laboratory functions, has professional acceptance, is adaptable to lab and hospital computer systems, and has a national reference base is a high priority for today's laboratory manager. At present, only one system--the College of American Pathologists' workload recording method--even comes close to meeting these criteria.

I have heard all the arguments against the CAP program, but I find that dissatisfaction with it is rooted in laboratory management's inexperience with workload data collection, analysis, interpretation, and application.

If you are a laboratory manager, you must become an adroit user of the workload recording method in order to interpret it to administration. Begin by making sure that data are collected properly. Then have your supervisors review the units assigned to each test. Make certain they account for all the unknowns, standards, controls, and repeats done. Conversely, be sure they don't get credit for things that aren't done.

Update the list annually when the new CAP workload recording manual is issued. If there are few changes in high-volume tests, don't both to compare the previous year's data. When there are a significant number of changes, keep dual records of the affected tests and provide comparative satistics in your annual report.

Once you are comfortable with the validity of your collection system, concentrate on analyzing the data, using the CAP formulas for the three kinds of productivity:

Paid productivity reflects the labor cost of laboratory operations --dollars for producing the CAP unit (technical, clerical, and aide time), as well as for all supplementary and ancillary activities. This formula is necessary to determine overall staffing costs and to plan budgets.

Worked productivity recognizes only those hours actually spent at the workplace. It is the total number of hours worked, less the time for such nonworking paid hours as sick leave and holidays.

Specified (workloaded) productivity provides the data to evaluate personnel needs and identify the non-CAP unit activities that may be unessential. It determines the time devoted to activities that are not technical, clerical, or aide time assigned to a particular test.

Once the calculations have been made, we can look at the data to see just what they mean. Paid productivity identifies the overall productivity of personnel producing the workload but does not tell you that all the personnel are needed. Worked productivity reflects the ratio of output to total technical, clerical, aide, and appropriate physician and Ph.D. clinical scientist time, giving you an idea of the impact of non-worked time.

Specified (workloaded) productivity helps you evaluate functions peripheral to the actual production of test results. The evaluation can help you decide if some or all of these activities can be eliminated or cut back. Or it will tell you if a change in job assignments would reduce labor cost per unit and improve overall productivity.

When reporting to administration, focus on specified productivity data because much of those labor costs are dictated by medical staff and administrative policies beyond the laboratory's power to change. Once administration realizes the impact it may have on cost-effective productivity, you can better justify the laboratory's paid and worked productivity and any unfavorable comparison with national standards. It then becomes a top management decision to make changes enabling the lab to become more efficient.

A number of aids can make the CAP system a more valuable tool. The CAP's "Manual for Laboratory Workload Recording Method' is your first resource (CAP, 5202 Old Orchard Rd., Skokie, Ill. 60077). Also look into the three practical and easy-to-use computer programs (under $700 each) from PHDLABS, 19626 Scottsdale Blvd., Shaker Heights, Ohio 44122.

For an in-depth look at the CAP system, send for "Tools for Survival, Series I, Course 2: Optimizing Productivity: Human Resources,' American Association for Clinical Chemistry, Education Department, Suite 1010, 1725 K St., NW, Washington, D.C. 20006.
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Title Annotation:College of American Pathologists' workload recoding method
Author:Barros, Annamarie
Publication:Medical Laboratory Observer
Article Type:column
Date:Dec 1, 1986
Words:645
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