Transplant program staffing: Right people in right jobs doing right functions in the right way

As we assist various programs around the country, one of the things we are asked is how does a program balance staffing constraints while accomplishing the many administrative and clerical tasks that are required and still deliver high quality patient care. Frequently when addressing staffing situations, what we find is that programs may have sufficient staff but everyone is doing so many other tasks that it detracts from their true function. Other times, we find that the program is simply understaffed for the volume or number of patients that they are caring for. While the scenarios seem to be different and one would think require different solutions, an assessment of staffing needs begins with an understanding of each role and what tasks that role is actually required to do (not just what we think they are doing). Once the tasks are defined, an understanding of the work flow processes and the current operational chains that each task requires is needed.

Once this is understood, realistic staffing expectations can be achieved and improved work flow processes put in place. One of the questions that we are asked is how many patients should my coordinators manage at any one time. While there are staffing surveys that provide information on what staffing ratios should be depending upon the phase of transplantation that the patients are in, these do not take into account unique program characteristics in terms of infrastructure and work flow process requirements. We feel that this is critical to achieve proper balance. By having either coordinator assistants or data managers, coordinators can spend increasing time with patients improving patient outcomes and most importantly patient satisfaction. Also, technology solutions that automate document workflows and data entry can increase productivity of both data mangers as well as coordinators if your program has them enter critical patient data into your database. Bottom line is that looking at all the ways that the staff that interacts with your patients can be made most efficient and effective is good for the patient and good for your program.

About the Author: Dr. John Daller, MD, PhD, FACS

As a former Director of several transplant programs, Dr. Daller has expertise in all aspects of transplant program management, as well as hospital program development including clinical, regulatory, business and administrative leadership via his company Strategic Illuminations. He consults in the area of medical legal review, due diligence and scientific evaluations, as well as utilization review via Daller Consulting. He is also Chief Medical Officer of Concordia Valsource, LLC which provides consultative services to developing biopharmaceutical companies and to Venture Capital groups investing in the health and life sciences. Previously, Dr. Daller was Vice President for Medical Programs in the Transplant Business Unit of Genzyme Corporation.