Title: Balancing nurses' workload to enhance the quality of care in an outpatient cancer clinic

Authors: Anali Huggins; Md Mahmudur Rahman; David Claudio; Linda M. Torma

Addresses: Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering, Montana State University, Bozeman, MT, 59717-3800, USA ' Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering, Montana State University, Bozeman, MT, 59717-3800, USA ' Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering, Montana State University, Bozeman, MT, 59717-3800, USA ' College of Nursing, Missoula Campus, Montana State University, Missoula, MT, 59812-7416, USA

Abstract: Nurses are critical resources as they maintain communication with patients, providers, and all other departments. Therefore, nurse unavailability creates a gap in the care delivery process and contributes to patients' wait time. This paper presents a methodology aimed at balancing nursing workload and increasing nurse availability at a workstation through an equitable redistribution of activities taking into consideration nurse utilisation and mental demand as well as required cognitive skills. A work-sampling study was performed to determine the proportion of time nurses spent on each task and the availability of nurses at the workstation. Subsequently, NASA-TLX and a cognitive survey were administered to understand the nature of activities and estimated task demands and requirements of nurses. Based on the results, recommendations were proposed and verified through a pilot study which resulted in an increase of nurses' availability by 19% while balancing their workload.

Keywords: nurse workload; nurse availability; work sampling; NASA-TLX; outpatients; cancer clinics; task redistribution; quality of care; healthcare management; patient waiting times; workload banancing; nurse utilisation; mental demands; cognitive skills.

DOI: 10.1504/IJCENT.2014.065045

International Journal of Collaborative Enterprise, 2014 Vol.4 No.1/2, pp.34 - 52

Available online: 09 Oct 2014 *

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