Maximizing Patient Coverage Through Optimal Allocation of Residents and Scribes to Shifts in an Emergency Department

Phichet Wutthisirisart, Gabriela Martinez, Heather A. Heaton, Kalyan Pasupathy, Moriah S. Thompson, Mustafa Y. Sir

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Residents and scribes in an Emergency Department (ED) work closely with an attending physician. Residents care for patients under the supervision of the attending physician, whereas scribes assist physicians with documentation contemporaneously with the patient encounter. Optimal allocation of these roles to shifts is crucial to improve patient care, physician productivity, and to increase learning opportunities for residents. Since resident and scribe availability varies on a monthly basis, the allocation of these roles into different shifts within a pre-designed ED physician shift template must be dynamically adjusted. Using historical patient flow timestamp data as well as information about the patient-coverage capacity of an ED care team, a data-driven model was developed for optimally determining which shifts must be staffed by residents and scribes to maximize patient coverage and to calculate the relative importance of a shift. This relative importance metric aids decision-making in adjusting the allocation of residents and scribes to various shifts as their availability fluctuates. Since the model uses historical timestamp data, which all EDs are mandated to collect, the approach is generalizable to all EDs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number212
JournalJournal of Medical Systems
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 1 2018


  • Patient volume
  • Residents
  • Scribes
  • Staffing scheduling
  • Workload

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Information Systems
  • Health Informatics
  • Health Information Management


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