Health care simulation modeling

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Tools and techniques

Rainer Dronzek
Assistant Vice President

Simulation modeling is gaining momentum in the health care community as a powerful analysis technique and a necessary part of a management engineer's toolkit. Through the presentation of basic concepts, a group exercise, case studies, and live models, attendees will be exposed to a wide range of tools and applications.

This presentation will provide the attendee with an overview of simulation modeling in health care. A key goal of the session is to give examples of how simulation was applied to a wide range of health care systems and processes. Traditionally, the emergency department has been the most simulated system in health care. But simulation modeling is being applied in a number of different applications including hospitals, ambulatory care centers, municipalities, and local and national populations.

The number of simulation tools available to users is greater than most people realize. For this reason, demonstration models will be presented for many different health care scenarios using a number of different tools. The idea is to give the attendee a broad overview of the implementation of simulation in health care. At the end of the session, users will be provided a list of all the major simulation tools (and contact information) as well as other resources to draw upon to learn more about this technology.

During the presentation of each simulation model, which will be done live to allow users to see exactly what is involved in modeling the process, the presenter will discuss the scope of the project, lessons learned, and results attained.

It's important to understand not only when simulation is applicable, but also when it may be too soon to conduct a simulation study. The level of commitment in terms of data collection, process analysis and review, and training and tool costs are often underestimated or glossed over. The presenter will provide candid and unbiased feedback on what skills are required to learn to use simulation tools, what to look for when selecting tools, the general price of tools and training, and the hidden costs and factors associated with any simulation modeling project.

Demonstrations of models will be focused on a wide variety of applications. The progression of demonstrations will start at a localized process level and move toward more abstract and global systems. At this time, the following demonstrations are planned:

  • Emergency department
  • Support services (e.g., lab, radiology)
  • Ambulatory surgery center
  • Patient movement using agent based simulation tools
  • Disaster preparedness at the municipal level
  • Study of the spread of disease or biological agents in a population

All demonstrations will be of projects in which the presenter was intimately involved and can answer detailed questions, including lessons learned and results attained.