An interview with Scott Hopkins, Sales Executive, on the complexity of patient assignment processes.  

Malachi: Scott, you’re speaking with healthcare organizations of different sizes and specialties on the daily. Have you observed any common threads between them in terms of their patient assignment processes? 

Scott: One of the observations I’ve made from speaking with healthcare organizations of varying sizes across the United States is that almost all of them feel their patient assignment process is very unique and more complex than other organizations. 

Malachi: Why do you think that is? Where does this belief originate? 

Scott: I think part of it is because of what I call tribal knowledge. The small group of staff or providers who manage patient assignment have acquired the knowledge of the process and its nuances in that specific environment over time. This may be where the belief that no person, application, or tool would possibly know exactly how to do it originates.  

Another situation that is potentially fuelling the belief around complexity could be that most of these organizations have an EHR and a scheduling tool – two different software systems that the person who is in charge of creating morning rounding lists needs to pull data from. I can see how the manual process of pulling data from two different systems and then bringing that data together into some kind of rounding list template in yet another system (in most cases, Excel) can feel very complicated. 

Malachi: What is a prospect’s first reaction when you tell them that medaptus automates and optimizes patient assignment? 

Scott: When I tell healthcare organizations that our technology simplifies even the most complex patient assignment processes there’s this initial reaction of disbelief, followed by a more in-depth discussion around the details of the organization’s current process.  

Once I walk them through the intelligent rules engine that is built into our Assign product and they can see that their own patient assignment criteria are covered in our rules (as well as all of the rules they could include) there’s an ah-ha moment where they realize that it could really work for them even though they have what they consider a complex process today. One point I always like to emphasize when talking about assignment rules is the fact that decision-based edits can still be made to assignments before they’re finalized.  

Our Assign rules fall into four key categories commonly used by our customer base: 

  1. Patient and Provider Continuity  
  2. Provider handoff/Succession  
  3. Geography  
  4. Patient Attributes 

It doesn’t happen often, but if there is a rule that we don’t have defined in Assign that is important to an organization, in most cases we can add in a custom rule. When we start talking about layering assignment rules, organizations get really excited about the solution, especially when I share that it can reduce the time spent on daily patient assignment to less than 30 minutes. 

Malachi: Is the belief about complexity stronger the larger the census? 

Scott: I’ve noticed that this belief about complexity exists whether the hospital has an average daily census as small as 150 or as large as 500, but it does strengthen with census size. It may be less time-consuming to manage a smaller census and a smaller population of providers but it’s still a manual process with many steps that could be made more efficient. The larger the census, the more time-consuming and burdensome the manual patient assignment process becomes, and the need to automate the process also increases.  

Malachi: I know it varies from facility to facility but on average, how long do organizations typically spend on morning patient assignments daily? 

Scott: It’s hard to come up with an average because it really does vary from facility to facility. But I would say that it takes most of them anywhere from one to three hours and that’s with someone who knows the process inside out and has been doing it for years.  

Malachi: That’s a lot of time that could be better spent, especially when we know that provider burnout is impacting healthcare organizations. How does automating patient assignment help? 

Scott: This is definitely a subject that comes up in conversation with healthcare organizations quite often. What I typically say is, when your patient assignment process is automated: 

  • Providers are happier because they have one less administrative burden and can focus on patient care which is what gives them job satisfaction 
  • Many people can quickly be trained on how to generate daily rounding lists and can quickly take over if someone leaves due to burnout  

Right now, I believe we need to we need to do everything we can to better support providers. Automating processes and making them simple and scalable can only help.  

Malachi: I agree 100%. You’ve shared some really great insights that I think will be helpful to our audience. Do you have anything else to share before we conclude? 

Scott: Yes, I just wanted to share that one of the things I’ve been thinking about lately is that medaptus actually adds complexity to the patient assignments, while removing the complexity from managing that process. Here’s what I mean.  

Say a large facility with multiple buildings has a manual patient assignment process with only two rules to generate their daily census. Rule one, geography – assign providers to patients in the same building, and two, continuity of care – assign providers to the same patients they saw the day before. As you can imagine, just these two rules result in a very tedious, time-consuming process. The assignment criteria is actually quite simple, it’s the process of creating the rounding lists based on those rules that is complex.  

By automating the process with medaptus, this facility could layer on an infinite number of assignment rules, making their assignments much more complex, improve patient care and provider satisfaction, all while reducing the complexity of producing the rounding lists.  

To leave you with a final thought. I believe the true reason healthcare organizations believe patient assignment is so complex is because they’re still doing it manually. With medaptus, organizations can make their assignment rules as complex as they want, but the process to manage it will always be simple.  

Malachi: Interesting perspective and right on point. Thanks for sharing these insights today, Scott! 

Scott: Thanks Malachi! 

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