Carl H. Lindner College of BusinessCarl H. Lindner College of BusinessUniversity of Cincinnati

Carl H. Lindner College of Business

UC Research Leads to Patent For Automated Decision-Making Algorithm

Monday, December 19, 2016 6:26 PM
Lindner professor reduces wait times so doctors can treat patients faster.
Craig Froehle

Craig Froehle

Time spent waiting for radiology results at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center (CCHMC) has been reduced thanks to the operations research of Craig Froehle, associate professor of Operations Management, Business Analytics and Information Systems (OBAIS) in the Carl H. Lindner College of Business.

Froehle and his collaborative researchers, radiology doctors Mark Halsted (now in Roanoke, Virginia) and Neil Johnson at CCHMC Department of Radiology, received a patent in July 2013 for a process that relies on an algorithm in an automated management system to determine the order in which radiology patients’ scans should be read.

In 2006, the three researchers began to examine the operational process of the radiology department to learn procedural shortcomings. The goal was to reduce wait times for patients whose doctors relied on those scans for medical diagnosis.

As part of that examination, Froehle says he and fellow researchers obtained patient data from medical factors (injury, condition, age, etc.), subjective perceptions (patient anxiety and concern of referring physician and attendee) and operational aspects (wait time, medical staff, equipment and facility availability) to create an automated presorted work list that prioritizes who sees the doctor first, says Froehle.

“This meant that the patients with the highest acuity score would be pushed to the front, while ensuring that no patient waited a very long time,” Froehle says of the quest to improve patient service. “In other words, which waiting exam was more urgent?"

Through a series of experiments and statistical modeling, the team of researchers developed a set of mathematical rules that closely match how radiologists decide among waiting exams. Froehle says he and fellow researchers helped physicians focus on reading exams by nearly eliminating this sorting task while also ensuring that waiting exams are prioritized more consistently.

The patient queue management technology, says Froehle, is now in use in dozens of hospitals.

Jeff Camm, professor and head of the OBAIS department in the Lindner College of Business, says “the collaborative and innovative research is a great example of the real-world impact that OBAIS research can have in terms of solving real-world problems.”