RE: [Histonet] Work load

From:"Morken, Tim - Labvision"

Paul, thanks for those insights. It reminds me of the old CAP workload
counting surveys we used to do. It never counted up all the time in the day
so the bean counters complained. It kept getting bigger and counted more and
more things - down to the ridiculous, like how many times you put on and
take off gloves during the day! Finally we were spending a significant
amount of time each day simply tallying up all the workload units (yes, they
had a count for that!). It finally became clear it was an unworkable system
and was dropped. 

The intangibles are what make the difference. Like you say, delivering
something can take on a big importance. If you have to go to the OR, and it
is 5 min away in one lab, but 10 min away in another, how do you account for
that? Is it work? What about your work you leave behind that is delayed?
Such trips can easily add up to an hour or more each day. 

In Eileens case it seems that they are risking cutting back so far that the
work will not get done on days someone calls in sick. That can't be
accounted for in workload figures, no matter how you do it. 

Tim Morken
Lab Vision / Neomarkers

-----Original Message-----
From: Paul Howard Lockwood [] 
Sent: Tuesday, January 13, 2004 6:54 PM
To: eileen dusek
Subject: Re: [Histonet] Work load

Dear Eileen,
      The problem of work load versus staffing comes from the inappropriate
application of of a branch of business math called Operations Research. Bean
have this awful tendancy to work up a model based upon what they consider
important functions. This leaves out "unimportant" functions that lab techs
perfrom, including paperwork, washing labware, taking finished work to the
pathologists, storing specimens, and so forth. All of these functions do
take up time, but 
somehow the time taken is left out of the model the accountants and business
managers and adminstrators come up with. They seem to believe that a lab
tech can 
somehow move themselves into a dimension where time does not occur.
Obviously, those of us who actually perform know different, but can;t get
this across to the 
ones who have come up the model.
      This adherence to the model comes from a belief that the model is the
same as real life. None of the people who use Operations Research have ever
bothered to 
read Rutherford Aris's work "Mathematical Models and Modeling Techniques."
In this volume, Dr. Aris spends the entire first chapter pointing out that
models are not 
real life, but only models. After the model is devised, it has to be tested.
After the test, the data from the test will usually be at variance with the
predictions given from 
the model. Based on those variances, the model has to be reworked to fit the
test data, not the other way around. Business people are not scientists,
even if they use 
something that seems scientific. This is what makes them frustrating, and
occassionally dangerous in the work place. (The danger being not just loss
of jobs of the lab 
techs, in your case, but turn around time for diagnosis, and hence treatment
of patients.) 
     My advice is to do a study of what the lab techs do, and how long it
takes them to do each task, and leave nothing out. Present this information
to the 
accountants and administrators, and let them know, firmly but gently, that
to reduce your staff would cause severe problems in getting the work done.
An example you 
might use is one from the post office. Postal route carriers had their
staffs reduced to the point where one carrier was doing what had been
formerly two routes. It was 
deemed possible to get all this work done in an eight hour day. What was
left out was the amount of sorting, and paperwork route carriers have to do.
This increased 
their hours per day from eight to ten, eleven, even twelve hours a day.
Where the post office saved money by reducing it's route carrier staff, it
lost more money by 
paying out time and half for the remaining postal carriers. Another example
is from where I work, where they have used "lean manufacturing" principles
to reduced the 
staff to the point where there isn't enough people to do the work. And if
one person is sick, or takes a vacation, then deadlines are missed. Or,
again, money saved 
from the staff reduction is lost from the time and half paid out for the
amount of overtime worked to make up the slack. And, recently, the staff has
voluntarily reduced 
itself by just quitting. Stressed out employees, even in a bad job market,
would rather take the risk of being without a job for a while than stay
where they will only be 
on the receiving end of more stress, and abuse.
     I hope this helps in some way. Good luck to you.
     Paul Lockwood
1/13/04 12:45:19 PM, eileen dusek  wrote:

>Hello everyone,
>A Pathologists was told by the "bean crunchers" they were overstaffed. 
>What is your opinion? The lab does approximately 22,000 cases, Immunos 
>on the Benchmark and a few Special Stains. The gross room is covered 95% of
the time by Support Techs.
This work load is performed by 2 FTE's and 1 Bench Supervisor. As we know
the supervisor cannot bench all the time.
>Eileen Dusek
>Do you Yahoo!?
>Yahoo! Hotjobs: Enter the "Signing Bonus" Sweepstakes 
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