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A simple workload recording system that your entire staff can use.

We recently developed a system that records and calculates workload data with Lotus 1-2-3, version 2.01 (Lotus Development Corp., Cambridge, Mass.) and calculates productivity with Look & Link (Personics, Maynard, Mass.), a Lotus add-in. The two main goals of the system are as follows: o To make it easy for a large number of employees at our 375-bed hospital, many of whom are not familiar with data keying, to enter data, and 9 To provide a relatively automated system for totaling and consolidating worksheet data.

We use the program at our large hospital lab to calculate the amount of productive time needed for all tests and other activities performed by MTs. The concept behind the program can be adapted for any organization in which several discrete activities, all requiring different amounts of time, take place. The program is useful to managers at all levels in measuring overall productivity and determining cost-effectiveness. 9 Procedure. Employees from each lab department enter their daily test totals on a weekly worksheet (Figure 1). Each department of the day shift maintains a separate worksheet. Because of their small size, all departments on the evening shift share one worksheet, while all night shift departments share another.

The Total Test column of the weekly worksheet represents the number of tests or activities performed during that week. The Total Count column represents the value in the Total Test column multiplied by the Unit Value given in the CAP Laboratory Workload Recording Manual.' If your organization does not use published standard time frames, you will have to conduct time studies to arrive at the value of each activity. The workload percentage for the week is derived by dividing the total of the Total Count column by the week's total Tek Time technologist time).

The worksheet uses basic Lotus formulas: the SUM function and asterisk *) and slash /) operators. Approximately 40 of our lab's 50 FTEs learned with surprisingly little difficulty to retrieve the appropriate worksheet, then enter and save data. They use the menu program Direct Access (Delta Technology International, Eau Claire, Wis.), a few Lotus 1-2-3 macros, and brief written instructions.

We were told in November 1988 to have the system up and running for the 1989 calendar year. Although we didn't have time to write macro menus, the technologists picked up their cues and the few we taught were able to teach each other in only a few weeks. The only complaints since then have been our attempts at revisions. Since we're currently incorporating a system from the accounting firm newly hired by our hospital, some changes will be inevitable.

Our worksheets are consolidated and totaled primarily with Look & Link, which can connect different worksheets in various ways. Newer spreadsheets with a similar capacity are Lotus 1-2-3, rel. 3; Lucid 3-D, ver. 2.0 (Dac Easy, Dallas, Tex.); Microsoft Excel, ver. 2.1 (Microsoft Corp., Redmond, Wash.); Quattro Pro (Borland Scientific, Scotts Valley, Calif.); and SuperCalc 5 (Computer Associates International Inc., San Jose, Calif.).

Look & Link actually comprises two programs. The Look portion enables the user to work in one worksheet, call up another in a window, and exchange data between the two. In Link, one segment of a worksheet can be permanently connected with another in a variety of combinations.

Our system uses Link in two ways. First, the weekly Total Count columns are linked to a monthly worksheet (Figure 11). At the end of each month, this worksheet is retrieved in Lotus 1-2-3 with Look & Link attached. At this time the monthly totals and workload percentages are calculated automatically.

Link is also used to create a Dependency Tree, which consolidates the weekly worksheets into a monthly total worksheet. In this process a blank weekly worksheet becomes the target worksheet. All weekly worksheets are added together and their total values entered in the target worksheet. This worksheet is at the highest level of the program, while the weeklies are one level below. The weeklies are automatically consolidated with Link when the Dependency Tree is invoked.

Every corresponding day of the week on the monthly total worksheet is linked to the daily worksheet's Test column (Figure 111). The Count column contains the CAP Laboratory Unit Values that appear in the Total Count columns of the other worksheets. When the daily worksheet is retrieved in Lotus with Link attached, the daily workload percentage for each day of the month is automatically calculated and appears in the Count column at the bottom. We do quarterly reports, too. 9 Extent. Consolidations and links can be programmed to cover as long a period of time as one wants. A Dependency Tree can connect weeks to months to quarters to years and even more, if desired. We decided to limit our links and consolidations to the monthly level for two reasons. The first is the amount of time needed to calculate more than 100 tests and activities on the worksheets for the night and evening shifts. This takes five to 10 minutes, even with our Compaq 386s. The second reason we don't go beyond months is to limit the number of files. Each file in a Dependency Tree must have a unique file name. The monthly consolidations and totals are given individual file names in Lotus 1-2-3. The user can change the link formulas to values by using the Lotus command / range value." Finally, the user can copy the Total Count columns of the monthly worksheets manually to a quarterly worksheet by using the Look portion of Look & Link. During the summer of 1989, we conducted a time study of all workloaded and nonworkloaded activities performed in each lab department. Using the results, we calculated a ratio of workloaded to nonworkloaded time for each department. We used this ratio in the formulas to calculate the workload percentage for total time available for each department. Thus, all nonworkloaded time is considered even though it is not currently counted in our computerized workload recording system.

The main advantage of not having to input nonworkloaded activities is having a much smaller worksheet that is less timeconsuming for employees entering data. Because most nonworkloaded activities are done on weekdays, the ratio is not used to calculate the workload percentage in the daily worksheet on weekends. We plan to repeat our time study to recalculate the workload/nonworkload ratio once a year. It's time-consuming, but worthwhile. 9 Troubleshooting. At the quarterly level, the number of minutes starts to become unwieldy. To compensate for this, we ended the formulas of the Total Count column with /60, which converts the minutes to hours. An example: + 122115/60. The workload percentage calculated in the quarterly worksheet meets the definition of Worked Productivity in the CAP Laboratory Workload Manual. Using this information, the system calculates Paid Productivity and Workload Productivity.

Variations. Our system is continually evolving. Although developed with Lotus 1-2-3, rel. 2.01, it will work with the new Lotus rel. 2.2 combined with the new rel. 2.2 of Look & Link. The system can also be modified to use Lotus 1-2-3, rel. 3, which does not need Look & Link. With rel. 3, the linking is done by writing formulas in Lotus and taking advantage of its 3D capacity. The next time we decide to update our system, we will import our rel. 2.01 I.WK1 files into rel. 3 and modify them.

Our workload recording system has many advantages. It can be developed by anyone with a working knowledge of Lotus 1-2-3 and does not require much programming experience. It is easily modified because it is not a specifically written program, but a system

I written for Lotus -2-3. The system has enabled us to calculate the amount and ratio of quality control tests and rechecks to the total number of tests done. Other labs can develop and modify a comparable system with an IBM-compatible PC, any of the Lotus versions from 2.0 through 2.2, and Look & Link.

The system does have a few disadvantages. First, it can't generate elaborate summary reports instantaneously, as some other databases can do. Second, the need to combine and link large worksheets requires at least 640K of RAM, a 286 microprocessor running at 12 MHz, and a hard disk with 40 or more megabytes. Using expanded memory above 640K helps solve some of the problems related to inadequate power. Look & Link can contain and work on as much material in the worksheets being processed in expanded memory as there is memory available.

Even with these shortcomings, our system enables many employees with little computer experience to enter data 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. The system totals and consolidates data and measures productivity in a fairly automated way. The product is useful for analyzing short-term departmental staffing needs and helps determine the long-term cost-effectiveness of laboratory activities as well.

We'll be glad to share the program in Lotus at no charge. Please send a postpaid self-addressed disk mailer and one blank formatted high-density 5 1/4- or 3 1/2-Inch diskette to the authors at Mercy Hospital Laboratory, 745 Jefferson Ave., Scranton, PA 18501. n
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Author:Kosinski, Daniel S.; Klevinski, Carl
Publication:Medical Laboratory Observer
Date:Jun 1, 1990
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