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Staffing to Workload in Phlebotomy Areas: On-Site Operational Needs

In the previous posts, we wrapped up the staffing needs that are related to the direct patient-care effort and the indirect-support effort. To complete our staffing-to-workload analysis, we need to include operational-support needs. There are two types of operational support: on-site and off-site operational support. For this post, we will discuss on-site operational needs.

On-Site Operational Needs

In phlebotomy, "on-site operational needs" is defined as "staff effort that does not deal directly with patients or their samples, nor does it deal with the indirect tasks needed to support those patient-care efforts." These tasks do require the phlebotomist to be on-site, but, more often than not, away from the work area. Examples of these types of tasks include, but are not limited to:

  • Continuing education credits for certificate maintenance.
  • Breaks and/or lunches.
  • Training for updated/new procedures.
  • Laboratory meetings.

Using the two phlebotomist staffing estimates from the previous post and the corresponding overstaffed times of day, we can plot out when tasks such as breaks, lunch, training and education, and meetings should happen:

Table 1: Tuesday Outpatient Phlebotomy On-Site Operational Needs.

These tasks can then be added to the chart containing the direct and indirect effort, changing the overall staff utilization from about 80% to about 94%. There are still some instances of overstaffing, but they have been greatly reduced. However, we have created a few more instances of understaffing. Before making any adjustments to the staffing estimate, we will need to consider the off-site operational needs.

Figure 1: Tuesday Outpatient Direct, Indirect, and On-Site Operations Effort.

On-site operational needs are only part of the staffing-to-workload analysis but a very important one. Most of these items are overlooked, and when that happens, it can lead to:

  • Decreased morale when staff are routinely skipping breaks or lunches.
  • An effect on patient care when staff aren’t given adequate time to receive training.
  • Less-experienced staff because they weren’t able to maintain their certifications.

The next blog post will continue with this analysis by outlining off-site operational needs in a phlebotomy work unit.

Mike Baisch

Mike Baisch

Mike Baisch is a Systems Engineer within the Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathology at Mayo Clinic. He partners with the various testing laboratories on their quality and process improvement projects including staffing to workload, root cause analysis, and standard work & training. Mike has worked at Mayo Clinic since 2005 and holds a degree in Industrial Engineering. Outside of work, Mike enjoys cooking and sampling cuisine from around the world, home brewing, and gardening.