Practice Economics

Automated Hospital Inpatient Assignment Program Increases Efficiency, Coordination of Care


A computerized patient assignment program to distribute new hospital admissions among 12 hospitalist-led, unit-based teams at Our Lady of the Lake Hospital in Baton Rouge, La., not only saves time and improves coordination of care, but also helps to build trust and satisfaction with patients, according to a poster presented at HM12.

Lead author and hospitalist Eric Wascome, MD, says the automated program takes into account patient medical intensity scores aggregated by hospital team in deciding who should get the next patient, thus smoothing out the referral process and minimizing hard feelings that some physicians are getting more than their fair share of work. The program also adjusts for particular units and room locations and incorporates physician preferences, then spits out the next referral within minutes. It also reduces the need to reassign rooms and allows patients to be told who their next-day hospitalist will be when they are admitted to the hospital overnight.

“It takes a complicated, head-scratching process and makes it a no-brainer,” Dr. Wascome says.

The Web-based, HIPAA-compliant program has thrived since Dr. Wascome’s presentation in April 2012. “A new twist is that we’ve added the capacity to bring in doctors who are not scheduled to work if they are needed on a voluntary basis, to address higher volumes of patients, and to have them on site within an hour,” he says.

Hospitalists say they approve of computerized patient scheduling, which was programmed by Dr. Wascome based on previous spreadsheet-based approaches to scheduling. Automation, he says, makes possible greater numbers of variables.

For more information, email Dr. Wascome at

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