Productivity tracking can show how hard you work

Demonstrate what you do, how many hours it takes

By tracking the productivity in her department, Joann C. Milne, RN, BSN, CRRN, PHN, was able to show that she and her case managers were working at 160% productivity.

"Case managers are working at one of the highest productivity standards in any organization, but we don’t track it, document it, or report it like we should. We need to start tracking productivity so when the cuts come, we’re not the ones who are going to be on the chopping block," Milne adds, assistant vice president of medical management programs with IOA Re, with headquarters in Plymouth Meeting, PA.

Her calculations astounded management but she wasn’t surprised.

"The organization in which we work bases productivity on a seven-hour day. My case managers were often working 10-hour days and were accruing sick and vacation [days] because we couldn’t take them," Milne says.

Few organizations actually track productivity, she points out.

That’s why case managers should take the initiative on their own to keep up with how many cases they open, how many hours they spend on a case, how long a case is open, and how much time they spend on noncase-related activities.

"When you break it down by specific tasks, the number of hours you spend per day will likely exceed your allotted eight hours a day. It’s not until you list it and think about it that you realize what all you do and how much time it takes to do it," Milne says.

Here are the steps you should take to determine your productivity level:

  • Determine how many hours you are working in a year by multiplying the hours worked per week times 52 weeks in a year. (Example: 40 hours per week times 52 weeks equals 2,080 hours per year.)
  • From the number of hours worked per year, subtract the number of hours used annually for vacation (typically 72 hours a year), sick/personal leave (about 80 hours in a typical benefits package), and continuing education time (from 40 to 80 hours annually) to obtain the actual number of hours available during the year to do your job.
  • Calculate the number of hours it takes to do your job and divide that by the actually number of hours available during the year to get your productivity level.

"Generally speaking, every company has a minimum productivity standard, otherwise known as operating efficiency," Milne says.

"It is unreasonable to expect that a team operate at 160% productivity. Productivity standards between 75% and 90% are considered acceptable, depending on the specific roles and responsibilities of the individual employee," she adds.

If you are working more hours than are available, you can use the productivity standard and your productivity rate to determine how many FTEs it should take to do the job, Milne says.

If your organization is going to grow, you need to know what kind of growth is expected and then project your future staffing needs based on the anticipated growth.

If you have figures at your fingertip of what case management has done for the organization, you’ll have an answer if the CFO says the organization can’t afford to hire a new case manager, she adds.

"When health plans look at their annual budget, they look at how many members at the beginning of the budget cycle and how much the plan is expected to grow over the next year. This growth is measured in additional covered lives," Milne says.

The case management director should look at how much time it takes per covered life and at how much staff are need to cover members, she adds.