Engaging Family Medicine Residents in a Structured Patient Panel Reassignment Process
BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES: The patient panels of graduating residents must be reassigned by the end of residency. This process affects over 1 million patients annually within the specialty of family medicine. The purpose of this project was to implement a structured, year-end reassignment system in a family medicine residency program. METHODS: Our structured reassignment process took place from December 2017 through June 2020. Panel lists of current, active patients were generated and residents were responsible for reassigning their own panels during a panel reassignment night. We created a tip sheet that addressed patient complexity and continuity, a risk stratification algorithm based on patients' medical and social complexity, and a tool that tracked the number of patients assigned to each future provider. Outcome measures included a resident satisfaction survey administered in 2018-2020 and patient-provider continuity measured with a run chart from December 2016 through August 2020. RESULTS: The resident survey response rate was 75%. Seventy-three percent felt the panel reassignment night was very helpful; 87% thought the reassignment timeline was extremely reasonable, and 87% indicated that they had the necessary information to reassign their patients. Residents also felt confident that their patients were reassigned appropriately (33% extremely confident, 67% somewhat confident). Patient continuity improved with a 13-point run above the median, indicating nonrandom variation. Patient continuity remained above the median until the impact of COVID-19 in April 2020. CONCLUSION: Our structured reassignment process was received positively by residents and resulted in improved patient continuity.