Forecasting Emergency Department Arrivals: A Tutorial for Emergency Department Directors
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This article is a tutorial for emergency department (ED) medical directors needing to anticipate ED arrivals in support of strategic, tactical, and operational planning and activities. The authors demonstrate our regression-based forecasting models based on data obtained from a large teaching hospital's ED. The versatility of the regression analysis is shown to readily accommodate a variety of forecasting situations. Trend regression analysis using annual ED arrival data shows the long-term growth. The monthly and daily variation in ED arrivals is captured using zero/one variables while Fourier regression effectively describes the wavelike patterns observed in hourly ED arrivals. In our study hospital, these forecasting methods uncovered: long-term growth in demand of about 1,000 additional arrivals per year; February was generally the slowest month of the year while July was the busiest month of the year; there were about 20 fewer arrivals on Fridays (the slowest day) than Sundays (the busiest); and arrivals typically peaked at about 10 per hour in the afternoons from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m., approximately. Because similar data are routinely collected by most hospitals and regression analysis software is widely available, the forecasting models described here can serve as an important tool to support a wide range of ED resource planning activities.
author list (cited authors)
Côté, M. J., Smith, M. A., Eitel, D. R., & Akçali, E.