Labor cost is the single highest expense for hospitals. Rather than relying on new technology, this case study seeks to utilize Human Interaction Management to redesign work structure and process to improve labor forecasting and scheduling outcomes.
This study takes a distinctly unique approach to the hospital workforce planning (forecasting and scheduling) problem. The study is differentiated from precedent work in its focus on the structure of the work and the human interactions involved in labor planning, rather than strictly quantitative mathematical models and algorithms. Hospital labor planning involves many dimensions and levels of complexity. Within this complexity, we believe there are many improvement opportunities. This study focused on examining human processes, interactions and work involved with forecasting workload and subsequent labor scheduling. The objective was to redesign necessary components to optimize human interactions, flow of information, and knowledge sharing in order to address the large amounts of complexity and variability.
The study concluded that a centralized role-process structure that facilitates and encourages more human interactions and feedback across the different roles resulted in more accurate labor forecasts, subsequently leading to more accurate labor schedules. We found that large amounts of critical knowledge and information was locked within the human participants who did not interact with other roles. There was a lack of a path for the critical information to flow across the roles where needed to successfully perform tasks. The drivers for the improvements were task focus and more information sharing leading to a richer collection of information and knowledge used as input to the work tasks. Redesigning work activities and roles resulted in better forecasting and scheduling outcomes as well as an additional benefit of freeing up clinical department leader time to focus on more patient and employee centric tasks within their departments.
Author: Richard Tarpey
Cite as: Tarpey, R. (2017). Human interaction management impact on hospital labor planning. Muma Business Review, 1(11). 125-139. https://doi.org/10.28945/3847