Understanding Allied Health services: Capacity and demand

Ms Julie-Anne Ross1, Ms Angela Wood1, Ms Kathy Grudzinskas1, Ms Wendy McCallum1

1Princess Alexandra Hospital, Brisbane, Australia

Background: Allied health services have much to offer in the provision of safe, efficient, patient centred care that supports health service targets and key performance indicators. However, we increasingly struggle with capacity to meet growing demand. The absence of clear frameworks for allied health staffing levels and lack of awareness regarding capacity and demand often leads to unrealistic expectations, high workloads and compromises the health and well-being of our staff.

Method: The first step to address these concerns was to establish and document a true picture of allied health services, current activity and factors that impact on capacity to meet demand.    A multi-faceted approach involved development of:

  • An allied health service profile which articulated detailed allied health staffing at a Division, service and ward and/or clinic level
  • An allied health dashboard for analysis of allied health activity and staffing at a Division, service and ward/clinic level by profession
  • A workload review to identify current allied health work practices and factors that impact on capacity to meet demand

Results & Discussion: Analysis of the allied health service profile, allied health dashboard and workload review has informed:

  • Open and transparent discussions regarding current and optimal models of service delivery in allied health professions
  • Regular executive, divisional and finance performance meetings
  • Advocacy for allied health services to best support patient needs
  • Workload management strategies including identification and understanding of high and low value activity, prioritisation strategies and wellness initiatives

The de-identified service profile, dashboard and workload review results will be shown, and lessons learnt from the ongoing journey discussed.  Future opportunities include addition of waitlist activity, bed numbers, alignment of research activity, mapping of activity to DRGs, targeted clinical redesign of allied health services to meet demand and disinvestment.

Conclusion: This initiative has been invaluable in providing a clear understanding of allied health services, capacity and demand.  Staff have permission to determine and implement optimal allied health models of care and services, without limitations of historical arrangements. The vision is this work will form the basis for an Allied Health Business Planning Framework.


Biography:

Julie-Anne Ross is an Occupational Therapist who works in Allied Health Workforce Development at the PA Hospital.  She has experience within the public sector in workforce development, clinical skills and management.

Angela Wood is an Occupational Therapist (OT) working in an Allied Health Workforce Development role for Metro South Hospital and Health Service, based at Princess Alexandra Hospital.  Angela has over 20 years healthcare experience in the public, private, corporate and not-for-profit sectors in Australia and the United Kingdom.  On completion of a Master of Health Science (Health Services Management) she developed a passion for supporting and developing health professionals, and developing and implementing innovative models of care to meet the current and future health needs of our community.  Angela has recently completed a Graduate Certificate in Clinical Redesign and a University of Toronto ‘train the trainer’ program on Collaborative Practice through Interprofessional Teamwork.  Research includes utilisation of the support workforce for best patient outcomes and the contribution of effective teamwork to patient care.

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