The durability of operational improvements with rotational patient assignment

Stephen Traub, Soroush Saghafian, Adam C. Bartley, Matthew R. Buras, Christopher F. Stewart, Brian T. Kruse

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Introduction: Previous work has suggested that Emergency Department rotational patient assignment (a system in which patients are algorithmically assigned to physicians) is associated with immediate (first-year) improvements in operational metrics. We sought to determine if these improvements persisted over a longer follow-up period. Methods: Single-site, retrospective analysis focused on years 2–4 post-implementation (follow-up) of a rotational patient assignment system. We compared operational data for these years with previously published data from the last year of physician self-assignment and the first year of rotational patient assignment. We report data for patient characteristics, departmental characteristics and facility characteristics, as well as outcomes of length of stay (LOS), arrival to provider time (APT), and rate of patients who left before being seen (LBBS). Results: There were 140,673 patient visits during the five year period; 138,501 (98.7%) were eligible for analysis. LOS, APT, and LBBS during follow-up remained improved vs. physician self-assignment, with improvements similar to those noted in the first year of implementation. Compared with the last year of physician self-assignment, approximate yearly average improvements during follow-up were a decrease in median LOS of 18 min (8% improvement), a decrease in median APT of 21 min (54% improvement), and a decrease in LBBS of 0.69% (72% improvement). Conclusion: In a single facility study, rotational patient assignment was associated with sustained operational improvements several years after implementation. These findings provide further evidence that rotational patient assignment is a viable strategy in front-end process redesign.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1367-1371
Number of pages5
JournalAmerican Journal of Emergency Medicine
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 1 2018


  • Length of stay
  • Rotational patient assignment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Emergency Medicine


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