Dispatcher Efficiency

AngelTrack's Dispatcher Efficiency Report is a powerful tool for judging the efficiency of your dispatchers.


Gain Finding

One of the responsibilities of dispatchers is gain finding: identifying opportunities to eliminate slack mileage, or to double up. Using its run data, AngelTrack recognizes two types of gain: overlaps and doubles.

Overlaps

An overlap is where the transport leg of one trip is also the enroute leg of a second trip, like this:

  10:00 am 10:15 am 10:30 am 10:45 am 11:00 am 11:15 am
Trip 1: Enroute On-scene Transporting At destination    
Trip 2:     Enroute On-scene Transporting At destination

Overlaps wipe out all the slack mileage of trip 2's enroute leg, so they are a big savings.

The efficiency report identifies overlaps by looking for pairs of calls where:

Doubles

We are all familiar with the concept of double-loading, where two patients are both headed to the same destination and so are loaded into the same vehicle:

Double loading for same destination

  10:00 am 10:15 am 10:30 am 10:45 am 11:00 am 11:15 am
Trip 1: Enroute On-scene Transporting At destination
Trip 2: Enroute On-scene Transporting At destination

...or both picked up from the same origin, and headed to two destinations in the same area:

Double loading for same origin

  10:00 am 10:15 am 10:30 am 10:45 am 11:00 am
Trip 1: Enroute On-scene Transporting At destination  
Trip 2: Enroute On-scene Transporting At destination

...or from two different origins, headed for two different destinations, but riding together in the same vehicle:

Double loading with different origins and different destinations

  10:00 am 10:15 am 10:30 am 10:45 am 11:00 am 11:15 am 11:30 am
Trip 1: Enroute On-scene Transporting At destination  
Trip 2: Enroute On-scene Transporting At destination

The efficiency report identifies the rate that each dispatcher creates double-loads, and calculates the approximate mileage saved. This is called the "Average Distance Per Double", expressed as a percentage of the worst-case scenario of running the two calls as singles. You can visualize the calculation like this:

Step 1: Calculate the mileage of running the two calls as a double load:
Actual mileage 20 miles
Step 2: Calculate the worst-case mileage, if the two calls were run as singles:
Worst case mileage 50 miles
Step 3: Divide to get a percentage,
showing what percent of the worst case was achieved.
20 miles
÷ 50 miles
= 40%
(a savings of 60%)

So we see that the "Average Distance Per Double" should be as low as possible; lower numbers mean that fewer miles were run, compared to the miles needed to run the calls separately. Clever rearranging and dispatching is required to find very many doubles on a typical call schedule.

Help from AngelTrack

AngelTrack provides some assistance in identifying overlaps. On the dispatch board's "Schedule" tab, colored bars appear to indicate origins and/or destinations occur within one hour and within one mile of each other. To exploit these potential overlaps, a dispatcher may need to call ahead, maybe move an appointment by 30 minutes forward or backward, or at least give a heads-up that transportation will be a bit early or late.

Overlaps are highlighted with colored bars

Each different color represents a one-mile-wide one-hour-long overlap among two or more dispatches. It is up to the dispatcher to find a way to take advantage of it. Some calling around and pushing appointments forward or backward by 30 minutes or so may be necessary.

The "Today" view of the Calendars page offers the same colored bars, drawing the dispatcher's attention to the same chances for gains.


Singles

A single is the transport of a single patient one way, without an overlap at either end. Because every single has an enroute leg consisting of slack mileage, they are the most costly runs (versus overlaps and doubles).

To minimize slack mileage, the dispatcher's job (in addition to finding gains in overlaps and doubles) is to deploy the crews from single to single such that each call leaves the crew close to their next pickup. A smart and efficient dispatcher keeps a mental map of where all crews are, and where the next calls are, and is always striving to minimize the distance that crews must drive between transports.

The efficiency report measures how well your dispatchers achieve this goal, by measuring the enroute distance a crew travels between one single and the next.

Help from AngelTrack

AngelTrack's Live Map can help dispatchers visualize the day's call schedule. If you switch the map into Shift Mode, it can show each shift's route plan, as well as nearby dispatches that could be assigned with little slack mileage.


Late Pickups and Late Dropoffs

Each dispatcher's rate of late pickups (more than 20 minutes late to an origin with an appointed arrival time) and late dropoffs (more than 20 minutes late to a destination with an appointed arrival time) is included in the efficiency report. When viewing the data, bear in mind these three facts:

  1. Unskilled dispatchers, and dispatchers unfamiliar with the area, will have more lates until they develop a sense for how long the calls on the schedule will take.
  2. Non-assertive dispatchers will have more lates until they find the willpower to criticize, chide, and scold crews who are moving slowly... or who are taking too many undeclared breaks.
  3. Good-intentioned dispatchers who are working hard to find gains will have more lates than those dispatchers who are prioritizing on-time arrival.

It is not AngelTrack's place to say what priority you should give to gains versus what priority to give to on-time arrivals. Nor is it possible for AngelTrack to publish figures on what your gain rates or mileages ought to be, because that depends entirely on the geometry of your service area and the vagaries of your call schedule. So, the report simply displays the late rates for each dispatcher, and it is up to your Director of Dispatch to decide how best to use the data, and to determine what goals to set for your dispatch office.


Caveats to the Report

This report has many caveats, and in any case does not paint a complete picture of your dispatchers' talents.

Part-timers and pinch-hitters

Your part-time and pinch-hitter dispatchers should not be judged too harshly, as they lack the familiarity with patients and with destinations that your full-time dispatchers enjoy. Likewise for new hires.

Also, when a person has dispatched just a handful of calls, the mileage data is not yet deep enough to be meaningful, because a single far-away call can throw off all the averages. The efficiency report therefore allows you to hide everyone who dispatched less than 20 calls during the time period.

Nights and weekends

For EMS operations focused on transport (rather than 911), the nights and weekends are sparse, and the calls are widely spaced with few chances for gains. Consequently, the efficiency report allows you to check ☑ Hide calls occurring at night or on weekends box to analyze your dispatchers activities during business hours only -- 6am through 8pm weekdays.

Balancing utilization and on-time performance

As a general rule, higher crew utilization means more late pickups, as crews are kept busy rather than waiting for their next call. When utilization is low, there is ample time to drive to the next pickup.

If your company is reducing staff levels in order to increase utilization, then late pickups must increase. Clever dispatching can only do so much when there are not enough crews on hand during the busy times. Once you've decided that your dispatchers are doing everything in their power, it becomes the responsibility of your sales staff to adjust customer expectations -- to help them understand that a certain rate of late pickups is unavoidable when their EMS company is trying to save them money.

Wheelchair/ambulatory is the land of doubles

Remember that double-loads are (in most states) impossible with BLS+ transports. Consequently, if one of your dispatchers does mostly stretcher, they will turn in fewer gains than those dispatchers who handle a more balanced mix of stretcher and wheelchair/ambulatory.

Triple loads

A triple load counts as one single (the first trip, judged for distance from the crew's previous call) plus two doubles.

Catch-and-release calls

Catch-and-release calls do not appear in the efficiency report -- whether or not transport was requested.

Move the report's date range

Use the efficiency report's date controls to slide the date range forward or backward in order to see how your individual dispatchers are improving. Don't look too far back in time, lest you average out the improvements that a dispatcher may have recently made.



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