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Changing the Way We Measure Pathologist Workload

September 19, 2014
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abacusPersonalized Medicine has been changing the way pathologists work. The volume of work, along with the type of work, has been changing in ways that would have been unimaginable before the incredible growth of complex informational parameters obtained from morphologic, proteomic and genomic analyses . This means that the way pathologists have been measuring and tracking their time and workload has needed to change in order to accurately capture the new ways that they have been working.

Dr. Carol Cheung, pathologist in LMP, has developed a new model, published in Modern Pathology, to capture pathologist workload that leaves behind previous methods based on counting specimens and samples, and rather looks at the whole picture and measures all the different activities of today’s pathologists.

“In the past the workload of a pathologist was manually assigned different values based on the type of specimen” said Dr. Cheung. “However, in today’s world, the same specimen types may require differing amounts of work.  Our new method captures individual components of our work regardless of specimen or tissue type. ”

The new model, called Automatable Activity-Based Approach to Complexity Unity Scoring (AABACUS) captures pathologists’ clinical activities accessed from Laboratory Information Systems (LIS), including specimen acquisition, handling, analysis, and reporting.

“All data used by AABACUS are captured and stored in a departmental LIS as part of usual clinical workflow,” explained Dr. Cheung. “Once those data are exported into AABACUS, they can be translated into clinical workload activities. It’s a robust, novel system that provides a much better picture of workload for modern pathology practice. AABACUS is adaptable to all lab environments and allows for better planning and utilization of the pathology team.”

“There has always been a clear need to define pathologist workload and to effectively measure it,” adds Dr. Sylvia Asa, Medical Director, LMP. “The AABACUS model is useful for laboratory management because it’s objective, automated and applicable across every laboratory discipline. The information it provides is illuminating in terms of the different activities in a pathologist’s day, but also helps us make decision in terms of resource allocation, pressure points within the system and where to spend time and energy growing and adapting our department in order to better serve our patients.”

The paper, entitled “Modeling Complexity in Pathologist Workload Measurement: the Automatable Activities-Based Approach to Complexity Unit Scoring (AABACUS),” can be accessed as an Advanced Online Publication (September 12) on the Modern Pathology website.

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