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J Oncol Pract. 2012 Jan;8(1):13-7. doi: 10.1200/JOP.2011.000326. Epub 2011 Nov 29.

A model to estimate human resource needs for the treatment of outpatients with cancer.

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  • 1University Hospital of Udine, Udine, Italy.



Although personnel costs significantly affect cancer health care expenditures, little is known about the relationship between workload, human resource requirements, and associated costs. An empirical model to forecast staffing demand is described according to the yearly caseload of outpatients with cancer beginning active treatment and the number of personnel working hours.


The oncology department at the University Hospital of Udine (Udine, Italy) is a computerized unit taking care of approximately 1,300 patients per year. Each clinical episode is centrally recorded. We queried the database for the total number of consultations per patient beginning treatment during 2006. With predefined bonds (ie, time limit set for each visit type and annual working hours per employee), we sought to estimate yearly per-patient hours of care and the number of personnel needed.


In 2006, each outpatient with cancer beginning active treatment generated an average of 16 clinical evaluations, which in turn translated into 8 and 16 hours of physician and nurse working time, respectively. Assuming an average of 1,672 annual working hours, a need for one physician and three nurses for every 600 patients could be estimated for every 200 novel patients. In the next year, the same caseload induced 4.5 consultations on average; using a similar approach, the demand for additional time and resources was calculated.


By means of a simple model combining predefined conditions with a centralized record of clinical episodes, we were able to provide a reasonable estimate of human resource requirements and a tool to forecast the staff expenditures of a cancer unit.

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