Study Objective: Significant variation in emergency department patient arrival rates necessitates the adjustment of staffing patterns to optimize the timely care of patients. This study evaluates the effectiveness of a queueing model in identifying provider staffing patterns to reduce the fraction of patients who leave without being seen. Methods: We collected detailed emergency department arrival data from urban hospitals and used a queueing model to gain insights on how to change provider staffing to decrease the proportion of patients who leave without being seen. We then compared this proportion for the same 39 week period before and after the resulting changes. Results: Despite an increase in patient arrival volume of 6.3%, an increase in provider hours of only 3.1% resulted in a decrease in the proportion of patients who left without being seen by 22.9%. Restricting attention to a 4 day subset of the week during which there was no increase in total provider hours, a reallocation of providers based on the queueing model resulted in a decrease in the fraction of left without being seen of 21.7% while the arrival volume increased by 5.5%.
Green, Linda, Joao Soares, James Giglio, and Robert Green. "Using Queueing Theory to Increase the Effectiveness of Physician Staffing in the Emergency Department." Working Paper, Columbia Business School, 2005.
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