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"Money Will Go Toward Testing Scheduling Program"
by Scott Suttell
Published in Crain's Cleveland Business
A Cleveland software developer has earned a $75,000 Small Business Innovative Research grant from the National Institutes of Health to test its medical staff scheduling program.

Acme Express Inc.'s scheduling software, called Doctors on Call Schedule, or DOCS, already is used by about 200 medium-sized medical practices nationwide, said president Don Scipione.

Ray Matthews, a spokesman for the National Institutes of Health, said the grant will help Acme Express determine whether it can expand the software to solve scheduling problems at large medical practices and hospitals.

The $75,000 will pay for a four-month study of the program's effectiveness at scheduling of physicians, residents and nurses at University Hospitals in Cleveland. Dr. Howard Nearman, clinical director of operative services at UH, will serve as a consultant to the study. UH already uses DOCS in its anesthesiology department.

Mr. Scipione said Acme Express, which he founded in 1979 with his brother, Paul, based its software on a truck-routing system it created in the early 1980s. Paul Scipione, an anesthesiologist trained at CWRU, suggested the need for such a system when he encountered scheduling problems at a Phoenix clinic.

Acme Express worked to develop an effective scheduling pro-gram, and in 1987 unveiled DOCS at an anesthesiologists' convention. It found a receptive audience, Don Scipione said.

``We really got swamped at the display . . . and decided to make a commercial product of it,'' he said. Mr. Scipione said the software can reduce scheduling time by 80% in some cases.

Earning the grant took more effort than Mr. Scipione imagined. Two earlier applications were rejected. But Mr. Scipione said he learned from the experience, and the third grant application proved successful.

Mr. Scipione said if the University Hospitals' test proves successful, the company may apply for a second SBIR development grant of up to $750,000.

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