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Konrad R.,Worcester Polytechnic Institute | DeSotto K.,New England Veterans Engineering Resource Center | Grocela A.,Worcester Polytechnic Institute | McAuley P.,Worcester Polytechnic Institute | And 3 more authors.
Operations Research for Health Care | Year: 2013

We report on the use of discrete-event simulation modeling to support process improvements in a hospital emergency department (ED), namely the implementation of a split-flow process. Our partner hospital was effective in treating patients, but wait time and congestion in the ED created patient dissatisfaction, unsafe conditions and staff morale issues. The split-flow concept is an emerging approach to manage ED processes by splitting patient flow according to patient acuity and enabling parallel processing. We contrast the split-flow operational model to other types of ED triage. While early implementations of the split-flow concept have demonstrated significant improvements in patient wait times, a systematic evaluation of operational configurations is lacking.We created a discrete-event simulation model and established its face validity for Saint Vincent Hospital in Worcester, USA, a community-teaching, Level II Trauma Center. Seventeen scenarios were tested to estimate the likely impact of a split-flow process redesign, including staffing level changes and patient volume changes. The scenarios were compared in terms of Door-to-Doctor time and length-of-stay for different patient acuity levels.Findings from the study supported implementation of the split-flow improvements. Statistical analysis of data taken before and after the implementation indicate that waiting time measures were significantly improved and overall patient length-of-stay was reduced. To gauge the success of the current split-flow process at Saint Vincent we compare performance metrics from three different sources: benchmark metrics, hospital data prior to split-flow implementation, and performance metrics post implementation. © 2013 Elsevier Ltd.

Al-Haque S.,Massachusetts Institute of Technology | Ceyhan M.E.,Massachusetts Institute of Technology | Chan S.H.,New England Veterans Engineering Resource Center | Nightingale D.J.,Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Military Medicine | Year: 2015

The Veterans Health Administration (VHA) provides care to over 8 million Veterans and operates over 1,700 sites of care across 21 regional networks in the United States. Health care providers within VHA report large seasonal variation in the demand for services, especially in the southern United States because of arrival of “snowbirds” during the winter. Because resource allocation activities are primarily carried out through an annual budgeting process, the seasonal load imposed by “traveling Veterans”—Veterans that seek care at VHA sites outside of their home network—make providing high-quality services more challenging. This work constitutes the first major effort within VHA to understand the impact of traveling Veterans. We discovered strong seasonal fluctuations in demand at a clinic located in the southeastern United States and developed a seasonal autoregressive integrated moving average model to help the clinic forecast demand for its services with significantly less error than historical averaging. Monte Carlo simulation of the clinic revealed that physicians are overutilized, suggesting the need to re-evaluate how the clinic is currently staffed. More broadly, this study demonstrates how operations management methods can assist operational decision making at other clinics and medical centers both within and outside VHA. © AMSUS - The society of Federal Health Professionals, 2015 printed in U.S.A. All rights reserved.

Kim B.,New England Veterans Engineering Resource Center | Elstein Y.,New England Veterans Engineering Resource Center | Shiner B.,New England Veterans Engineering Resource Center | Shiner B.,White River Junction Medical Center | And 4 more authors.
General Hospital Psychiatry | Year: 2013

Objective: To improve clinic design, trial-and-error is commonly used to discover strategies that lead to improvement. Our goal was to predict the effects of various changes before undertaking them. Method: Systems engineers collaborated with staff at an integrated primary care-mental health care clinic to create a computer simulation that mirrored how the clinic currently operates. We then simulated hypothetical changes to the staffing to understand their effects on percentage of patients seen outside scheduled clinic hours and service completion time. Results: We found that, out of the change options being considered by the clinic, extending daily clinic hours by two and including an additional psychiatrist are likely to result in the greatest incremental decreases in patients seen outside clinic hours and in service time. Conclusion: Simulation in partnership with engineers can be an attractive tool for improving mental health clinics, particularly when changes are costly and thus trial-and-error is not desirable. © 2013.

Peck J.S.,New England Veterans Engineering Resource Center | Peck J.S.,Massachusetts Institute of Technology | Gaehde S.A.,Emergency Medicine Service | Nightingale D.J.,Massachusetts Institute of Technology | And 6 more authors.
Academic Emergency Medicine | Year: 2013

Objectives: The objective was to test the generalizability, across a range of hospital sizes and demographics, of a previously developed method for predicting and aggregating, in real time, the probabilities that emergency department (ED) patients will be admitted to a hospital inpatient unit. Methods: Logistic regression models were developed that estimate inpatient admission probabilities of each patient upon entering an ED. The models were based on retrospective development (n = 4,000 to 5,000 ED visits) and validation (n = 1,000 to 2,000 ED visits) data sets from four heterogeneous hospitals. Model performance was evaluated using retrospective test data sets (n = 1,000 to 2,000 ED visits). For one hospital the developed model also was applied prospectively to a test data set (n = 910 ED visits) coded by triage nurses in real time, to compare results to those from the retrospective single investigator-coded test data set. Results: The prediction models for each hospital performed reasonably well and typically involved just a few simple-to-collect variables, which differed for each hospital. Areas under receiver operating characteristic curves (AUC) ranged from 0.80 to 0.89, R2 correlation coefficients between predicted and actual daily admissions ranged from 0.58 to 0.90, and Hosmer-Lemeshow goodness-of-fit statistics of model accuracy had p > 0.01 with one exception. Data coded prospectively by triage nurses produced comparable results. Conclusions: The accuracy of regression models to predict ED patient admission likelihood was shown to be generalizable across hospitals of different sizes, populations, and administrative structures. Each hospital used a unique combination of predictive factors that may reflect these differences. This approach performed equally well when hospital staff coded patient data in real time versus the research team retrospectively. © 2013 by the Society for Academic Emergency Medicine.

Peck J.S.,New England Veterans Engineering Resource Center | Peck J.S.,Massachusetts Institute of Technology | Benneyan J.C.,New England Veterans Engineering Resource Center | Benneyan J.C.,Northeastern University | And 2 more authors.
Academic Emergency Medicine | Year: 2012

Objectives: The objectives were to evaluate three models that use information gathered during triage to predict, in real time, the number of emergency department (ED) patients who subsequently will be admitted to a hospital inpatient unit (IU) and to introduce a new methodology for implementing these predictions in the hospital setting. Methods: Three simple methods were compared for predicting hospital admission at ED triage: expert opinion, naïve Bayes conditional probability, and a generalized linear regression model with a logit link function (logit-linear). Two months of data were gathered from the Boston VA Healthcare System's 13-bed ED, which receives approximately 1,100 patients per month. Triage nurses were asked to estimate the likelihood that each of 767 triaged patients from that 2-month period would be admitted after their ED treatment, by placing them into one of six categories ranging from low to high likelihood. Logit-linear regression and naïve Bayes models also were developed using retrospective data and used to estimate admission probabilities for each patient who entered the ED within a 2-month time frame, during triage hours (1,160 patients). Predictors considered included patient age, primary complaint, provider, designation (ED or fast track), arrival mode, and urgency level (emergency severity index assigned at triage). Results: Of the three methods considered, logit-linear regression performed the best in predicting total bed need, with a receiver operating characteristic (ROC) area under the curve (AUC) of 0.887, an R2 of 0.58, an average estimation error of 0.19 beds per day, and on average roughly 3.5 hours before peak demand occurred. Significant predictors were patient age, primary complaint, bed type designation, and arrival mode (p < 0.0001 for all factors). The naïve Bayesian model had similar positive predictive value, with an AUC of 0.841 and an R2 of 0.58, but with average difference in total bed need of approximately 2.08 per day. Triage nurse expert opinion also had some predictive capability, with an R2 of 0.52 and an average difference in total bed need of 1.87 per day. Conclusions: Simple probability models can reasonably predict ED-to-IU patient volumes based on basic data gathered at triage. This predictive information could be used for improved real-time bed management, patient flow, and discharge processes. Both statistical models were reasonably accurate, using only a minimal number of readily available independent variables. © 2012 by the Society for Academic Emergency Medicine.

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