Implementation of clinical assistants in a pediatric oncology department: An impact analysis

Health Serv Manage Res. 2024 May;37(2):80-87. doi: 10.1177/09514848231165193. Epub 2023 Mar 23.


Bureaucratic and administrative tasks associated with health care provision have historically fallen on health care professionals, which is one among the factors contributing to low job satisfaction and lower productivity. Incorporating new professional roles that help to better respond to the needs of both patients and professionals can increase the quality and efficiency of service provision. This article aims to evaluate the impact of the clinical assistant's introduction in the Sant Joan de Déu Barcelona Children's Hospital's pediatric oncology department, in terms of (i) displacement of activity loads carried out by this new professional role and the consequent time freed up for physicians, (ii) physicians' satisfaction and (iii) efficiency of the new care model. This is an observational and retrospective study using administrative data based on the type of activity performed by clinical assistants and the measurement of the time freed up in favor of the physicians. The potential skill mix productivity increase, survey of physicians' satisfaction, and reduction in costs with the new model was analyzed. During the first year of its implementation in the pediatric oncology department, clinical assistants have performed 13,553 requests (69% of the total), representing a total saving of 266.83 hours or 6.67 workweeks of 40 hours. They performed 74% of outpatient surgical requests in the oncology department, 87% of day hospital requests and 54% of total requests in the outpatient consultations area. Physicians are overall satisfied with the new role and think they can use the time gained to do other things such as research or improving the quality of care. The role change allows reducing the cost per request by 56% in relation to the conventional model. In conclusion, the introduction of clinical assistants in the oncology department could be efficient to the extent that it displaces a significant part of the bureaucratic and administrative tasks previously performed by health care professionals and thus enables to reduce the cost of these processes. This delegation allows them to work more closely to the maximum of their competences and the physicians to have more time for higher added value clinical tasks and increase professional satisfaction.

Keywords: Clinical assistants; assistance activity; new roles; pediatric oncology; skill mix.

Publication types

  • Observational Study

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Efficiency, Organizational
  • Hospitals, Pediatric
  • Humans
  • Job Satisfaction*
  • Medical Oncology
  • Oncology Service, Hospital
  • Pediatrics
  • Professional Role
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Spain