One of our clients built an entirely new ED to accommodate 45,000 annual patients. They realized shortly after the fact that they should understand its performance in light of a potential increase in psychiatric and non-urgent patients. And, the department was built one floor above ground. How would handicapped or distressed patients enter? How much flexibility could they expect in their new ED? Using computer simulation we were able to create entry and staffing scenarios. We helped them understand potential utilization of different areas of the department, and suggested alternate uses of certain spaces to match their emerging needs.
Benefits of computer simulation modeling
Computer simulation modeling benefits EDs by quantifying the exact staffing and operational adjustments needed to optimize the environment. It quantifies the amount of staff needed by type and by hour of the day relative to various operational models. This approach can save thousands of annual operational dollars.
Modeling allows for a comparison of the benefits (increased capacity, decreased patient length of stay) with the costs (facility impact, staffing modifications, impacts on other departments) for each of the potential options. This leads to consensus on the options that have the best chance for success.
Key barriers and how to overcome them
You may have heard about simulation modeling before: that it takes too long, is too complicated, and too expensive. Yet, compare the cost of one simulation model to the cost of a poor patient outcome caused by insufficient or inflexible staffing. Or the cost over time of unnecessarily lengthened patient waits. Seen from this perspective, computer simulation modeling is a relative bargain.