Digital approaches to managing staff absenteeism

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Helpdesk Query:

Produce a report looking at experience and emerging practice in the use of digital approaches to manage/monitor staff absenteesism, in particular health staff.

Summary:

Research looking at the use of smartphones to monitor doctor attendance in Pakistan found many other factors affecting attendance other than the monitoring (Callen et al 2013). Health systems inspectors uploaded results to an aggregating website. Smartphone monitoring doubled inspection rates and relatively few phones were used to cover a large population. Because politicians provide public jobs, doctors were found to be considerably more likely to be present at work in competitive constituencies.

A system in India which electronically transmits time and date stamps to monitor nurse absence found that incentives were required alongside the monitoring for effective change (Banerjee et al 2008). There were problems with staff being excused for meetings which could not be proven (Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab, 2009). Machines were also found to be deliberately broken.

One example from the field of education is widely cited in the literature. An experiment was conducted in a remote rural area in India where regular monitoring is difficult. Children were instructed to take photos of teachers with cameras (Duflo & Hanna, 2005). The cameras had tamperproof date and time functions. The program was found to be effective compared to a control with 22 percent absence in treatment schools and 42 percent absence in comparison schools. Test scores were also higher in the treatments schools.

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