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FEATURE LABORATORY MANAGEMENT


clinical laboratories ostensibly force these relationships for productivity, thereby making them human-machine systems. The assessment of operator workload has a vital impact on design of a laboratory. By evaluating operator workload in a system, or iteration of an existing system, problems such as workload bottlenecks and overload can be identified. As the human operator is a central part of a human-machine system, the correction of these problems is necessary for the operation of safe and efficient systems.


MODELLING Modelling is an actionable representation of a chosen reality. This infers that a workload model can be used interactively to produce future dispensation consequent on a changing environment Therefore, workload modelling permits you to accurately and confidently manage a laboratory by indicating how to:  Optimally utilize human resources and planning to determine current and future laboratory staffing requirements over a defined period for all occupational groups within the laboratory in line with the laboratory’s conditions of employment, professional requirements and turn- around times as agreed upon with clients and quality of the outputs (patient results).


 Ensure scalability that will accommodate the projection of productivity across different laboratory functions.


 Determine the impact of initiatives such as amalgamation, automation and technology improvements on human resources requirements.


 Assist decision makers in scientifically determining laboratory sizes based on the empirical data sourced through workload modelling. Figure 1 represents a reasonably universal


business context within which a workload model can be designed, developed, piloted, implemented and utilised.


EFFICIENCY Effective and efficient laboratory operations and service delivery to hospitals, doctors and their patients depend on having enough of the right resources at the right time. This in turn depends on an HR management business process that starts with resource planning utilising the workload model, resulting in a


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“Demand dynamics dictate resource requirements while organisation operational structures influence delivery capability”


calculation of the desired number of resources required per occupational category per laboratory taking anticipated volumes per test type into account. The ability to compare the desired number of resources with the currently available resources could result in the development a plan of action to address the gaps between current and future demand. The action plan to address gaps may


include: recruiting additional resources, redeploying currently available resource to address potential imbalances between regions and laboratories, development or redevelopment (up- or cross skilling) of currently available resources to meet demand and possibly restructuring/ repositioning laboratories, the services they provide and the laboratory equipment and technologies they utilise. It is therefore necessary for the


workload model(s) to support the development and comparison of alternative workloads enabling decision makers to


consider and choose the most appropriate course of action to ensure optimal resource utilisation, service delivery and client satisfaction.


PLANNING FOR CHANGE During the workload model’s life cycle, changes may occur in the environment, business requirements, priorities and demand for services. It is therefore important that the model be maintained continuously and applied during both annual planning cycles, as well as during critical management checkpoints as and when needed. It is important to note, that the


workload modelling tool will not be a resource scheduling tool (i.e. supporting the allocation of named individuals to tasks within a laboratories). It is intended to be a modelling tool, supporting HR resource planning and utilisation processes and management decision making. The critical factors that must to be


considered, taking the business context described above into account when designing and developing a workload model is depicted in figure 2. A workload model is a prerequisite to


workforce planning; the purpose of which is to determine the most appropriate schedule and staffing level for a laboratory in order to enhance operational efficiency, service levels and customer satisfaction. Within most laboratories the 


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