Study objective We compare emergency department (ED) operational metrics obtained in the first year of a rotational patient assignment system (in which patients are assigned to physicians automatically according to an algorithm) with those obtained in the last year of a traditional physician self-assignment system (in which physicians assigned themselves to patients at physician discretion). Methods This was a pre-post retrospective study of patients at a single ED with no financial incentives for physician productivity. Metrics of interest were length of stay; arrival-to-provider time; rates of left before being seen, left subsequent to being seen, early returns (within 72 hours), and early returns with admission; and complaint ratio. Results We analyzed 23,514 visits in the last year of physician self-assignment and 24,112 visits in the first year of rotational patient assignment. Rotational patient assignment was associated with the following improvements (percentage change): median length of stay 232 to 207 minutes (11%), median arrival to provider time 39 to 22 minutes (44%), left before being seen 0.73% to 0.36% (51%), and complaint ratio 9.0/1,000 to 5.4/1,000 (40%). There were no changes in left subsequent to being seen, early returns, or early returns with admission. Conclusion In a single facility, the transition from physician self-assignment to rotational patient assignment was associated with improvement in a broad array of ED operational metrics. Rotational patient assignment may be a useful strategy in ED front-end process redesign.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Emergency Medicine