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Workload recording with Lotus 1-2-3.

Workload recording with Lotus 1-2-3

We have developed a system using IBM PC microcomputers and Lotus 1-2-3 software for College of American Pathologists' workload recording in our 626-bed hospital laboratory. The Lotus spreadsheet program provides the timely, accurate reports needed to evaluate productivity data. Monthly and year-to-date statistics can be maintained and comparisons drawn with previous years (the system has been in operation four years).

Each section in our laboratory is a cost center responsible for collecting and inputting its own workload data. Part of the data comes from the laboratory information system, which produces a monthly report on the volume of requests for every kind of test, by work area. The sections themselves keep daily manual tallies of controls, standards, and repeats.

All of this information, along with hours worked and hours paid, is recorded on work sheets. Then it is entered every month into each section's spreadsheet file--which already contains test names, CAP codes, and unit values --to produce a productivity report. The program also automatically brings forward year-to-date figures.

Command macros are a significant time-saver in the program. Set up by the user, macros consist of two keystrokes, the [ALT] key and a letter. They serve as abbreviations for a longer series of Lotus commands and accomplish the same result. Several of our macros are listed below in Figure I.

To start things off, a section's spreadsheet file is called up by using the Lotus file retrieve command. The user-defined main menu is displayed on the computer screen, as in the top of Figure II. The figure also shows part of the spreadsheet (as much as can fit on the screen). Figure III is an excerpt from a printed productivity report.

Our main menu offers a choice of data entry, report printing, addition of test procedures to the spreadsheet list, saving the file, and instructions. To select a menu item, we can use either the cursor or press the first letter of the item.

When a menu item is chosen, the screen displays a description of it. For data entry, the description reads: "Enter data, place NUM LOCK in number position." The latter step simplifies transcription of figures from the work sheets to the spreadsheet. It drops an alternate function of the microcomputer's numeric keypad, which is to move the cursor through the spreadsheet, and limits use of the keypad to data entry.

A command macro is invoked to establish a new means of cursor control. We can press the [ALT] key and the letter X (allowing data entry across three spreadsheet cells, then moving the cursor down to the next row) or the letter E (allowing data entry in one cell, then moving the cursor down to the next cell in the column).

By going back to the main menu and pressing the return key, we move on to the next menu. The new menu presents a choice between the first and last six months of our fiscal year, July-December or January-June. The reason the months are divided into two sets is Lotus's limitation of seven items per menu. We select a month within one of the two sets and press the return key. Now the spreadsheet headings are displayed, and the cursor goes to the first data entry cell for that month.

We set the spreadsheet for manual calculation to allow faster entry of data. Otherwise, the program would automatically recalculate the entire spreadsheet every time a figure is input. Pressing [F9] at the end commands the calculation, and pressing [CTRL] [SCROLL LOCK] cancels the data entry macro.

To print the productivity report, we 1) display the main menu by pressing [ALT] and the letter M, 2) move the cursor to Print or press P, 3) enter the range or block of spreadsheet cells covering the desired month, and 4) press the return key. A blank work sheet can also be printed for the next month's data.

To store the updated file, the main menu is again displayed, and the cursor is moved to Save, or S is pressed. We also make a copy on a backup floppy disk.

Additional test procedures may be added through the main menu by moving the cursor to AddTest or pressing the letter A, and macro instructions may be displayed by moving the cursor to Instructions or pressing the letter I.

Each laboratory section submits a printout of its productivity report for input into a cumulative file. This file lists total workload units for each section rather than workload units for individual test procedures. Other information, such as worked and paid hours, revenue, and costs, are also entered to produce different kinds of reports.

We would be happy to share a sample workload recording file diskette with interested readers who have Lotus 1-2-3 (it would not be of use if you don't have the program). Just send a 5 1/4-inch diskette and a stamped, self-addressed diskette mailer to the author at the Clinical Laboratory, St. Joseph's Hospital and Medical Center, 350 W. Thomas Rd., Phoenix, Ariz. 85013.

Photo: Figure I Some command macros for Lotus 1-2-3 spreadsheet

Photo: Figure II Menu and extent of spreadsheet display on screen

Photo: Figure III Printout showing full width of monthly data
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Title Annotation:hospital laboratory
Author:Scheele, Kathleen
Publication:Medical Laboratory Observer
Date:Mar 1, 1988
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