Investigators Develop More Accurate Pharmacy Productivity Models to Represent Infusion Center, Hospital Workload


The workload in pharmacies may not be proportionate to census or patient load due to variations in case mix index.

A management case study conducted by researchers at PeaceHealth in Vancouver, WA, found that designing productivity measurements that more accurately reflected the pharmacy professional workload served a critical role in ensuring accurate staffing needs assessments and care capacity. According to the investigators, evaluating trends in care over time can assist in effectively predicting staffing needs.

Hospitals face declining reimbursement and financial toxicity, according to the study, and many organizations are attempting to transition pharmacy departments from fixed budgets to flex budgets. Further, the workload in pharmacies may not be proportionate to census or patient load due to variations in case mix index.

To ensure accurate staffing needs assessments, the investigators determined that metrics to determine these needs must reflect the operational, clinical, and direct patient care activities of pharmacy professionals.

Pharmacy staff and leadership conducted brainstorming sessions in order to identify activities that must be accounted for when measuring pharmacy workload. Time studies were performed to determine the average amount of time needed to complete these activities.

Further, the functionality of the electronic medical record, other pharmacy software systems, and the productivity reporting software was assessed to determine what was measurable. A weighted system was created to measure how much time was needed by pharmacy professionals to perform operational, clinical, and direct patient care activities.

The current productivity measurement methodology—adjusted patient days—was compared to the new weighted activity model in multiple assessments of both models. Comparisons were performed on days of perceived “heavy, average, and light” workload at multiple sites, and an assessment of missed clinical opportunities was performed to assess the impact of staffing limitations on patient care opportunities.


Halsey, J. Developing productivity models which accurately represent hospital and infusion center pharmacy department workload. Presented at: ASHP Midyear 2021. Accessed December 2, 2021.

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