Measuring dispensary workload: a comparison of the event recording and direct time techniques

K Lynette James, Dave Barlow, Anne Bithell, Robin Burfield, Sarah Hiom, Sue Lord, Mike Pollard, Dave Roberts, Cheryl Way, Caroline Sutton, Cate Whittlesea

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

4 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Objectives: To compare dispensary workload, determined using the Welsh benchmarking event recording technique and the direct time technique, at two district general UK National Health Service hospitals within different university local health Boards (hospital A – manual dispensing system; hospital B – automated dispensing system). 
Methods: Data on dispensary workload were collected, over a period of 6 weeks (hospital A: 8 May–18 June 2007; hospital B: 1 October–11 November 2007), by a non-participant observer using two simultaneous methods of workload measurement: direct time and event recording. Direct time technique involved timing each task involved in dispensing a sample of prescriptions from receipt to issue of dispensed medicines to patients. Welsh benchmarking event recording involved continuously logging staff activities that deviated from the dispensary rota on a data collection form to enable calculation of total staff time involved in dispensing activities. Data on number of items dispensed were obtained from the pharmacy computer system and also by manual counting of prescription items. The mean dispensary workloads were calculated as the number of items dispensed per person per hour. Two-sample t-tests were used to compare dispensary workload measurements determined using direct time and event recording technique reported by each individual hospital. Mean workloads for hospitals A and B were compared using a two-sample t-test. Statistical significance was taken as P ≤ 0.05.
Key findings: Hospital A was associated with a lower workload (direct time: 7.27 ± 7.16 items per person per hour; event recording: 9.57 ± 10.6 items per person per hour). In contrast, hospital B gave a higher workload (direct time: 11.93 ± 8.3 items per person per hour; event recording: 12.6 ± 8.80 items per person per hour). There was a significant difference between workload (direct time: P < 0.01; event recording: P < 0.01) reported for both hospitals. The direct time and event recording techniques produced consistent results at each hospital (hospital A: t = 0.02, P = 0.99; hospital B: t = 0.004, P = 0.1).
Conclusion: The direct time and Welsh benchmarking event recording techniques produced consistent results at both hospitals. Thus the Welsh benchmarking event recording technique is a valid and reproducible method of measuring dispensary workload. Hospital B (automated) had a higher workload than hospital A (manual). Further work is required to investigate the impact of automation on dispensary workload.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)264-275
Number of pages12
JournalInternational Journal of Pharmacy Practice
Volume19
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2011

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