Emergency Departments, globally, are overcrowded. It seems that every CIO and hospital administrator has some pet project designed to address this serious issue. Lean, Six Sigma, time-motion studies – they’re being used almost everywhere in an effort to understand the often chaotic workflow processes inherent in an Emergency Department. In all these studies, one thing is consistent: workflow data is gathered and then transformed into a simulation, whether on paper or in a computer, of the specific ED. Then, cause and effect can be analyzed.
While simulation is widely recognized as the only effective method to analyze the complex workflow in an Emergency Department and to predict the effects of changes in such elements as physician staffing, arrival volumes, bed availability, and disposition type and duration, acceptance of simulation has been limited due to the lengthy learning curve of current simulation applications, which can include having to learn a proprietary programming language. Because of this specialized knowledge, it is often cost-effective to hire consulting groups, even at $30,000 to $50,000 per study.
SimZ Simplified introduces ED Simulation, edsimulation.com, a desktop application designed specifically for quickly modeling and simulating Emergency Departments. By removing the programming and pre-building Emergency Department workflow processes, ED Simulation allows the individual hospital administrator or physician to model and simulate their Emergency Department within a few hours of gathering the required data and installing the application. And, ED Simulation is priced low enough that any hospital or individual physician can purchase it.
With ED Simulation, hospital administrators or physicians can:
• Determine how to minimize patient waiting times and ED overcrowding;
• Test effectiveness of physician schedules;
• Assess the impact of Lab/X-Ray/MRI or admission delays;
• Identify where workflow “bottle-necks” exist;
• Evaluate the effect of patient arrival and symptom mix;
• Calculate revenue effects of diversion;
• Test disaster preparedness scenarios.
“The usefulness of this application can not be over-stated,” explains Arlene Phillips, President. “It allows hospital administrators and physicians to talk a common language and to work together, with data rather than guesses, to improve their ED. ED Simulation allows users to focus on areas where change can lead to real improvement in patient throughput and time to assessment. For example, we tested a simulation where the physician assessment times were decreased by 50%. The average patient throughput and time to assessment was hardly changed – clearly the risk of a potential decrease in quality was not offset by any measurable gain to the patient experience. “
“We’ve used ED Simulation to test and fine-tune various emergency-preparedness scenarios,” continues Ms Phillips. “The advantage of ED Simulation is that it is not a purchased one-time application. As the environment changes, the simulation files can be modified and then re-run. Improvement in patient experience is an iterative process – ED Simulation allows administrators and physicians the flexibility to test their processes in any environment they can imagine.”
“Until now, Emergency Department leaders haven’t had much choice when it came to decision support in optimizing their areas. They could attempt to use inadequate formulas like Erlang C, they could spend months learning and adapting a simulation program designed for assembly lines, they could hire a consultant who would do the adapting, or they could test out options on their patients. Our development team was led by an ED physician with more than 20 years of experience in a variety of hospitals and fully understands the current lack of Emergency Department workflow decision support. We’re proud to say that we’ve designed our Emergency Department simulation application to be so intuitive that any Emergency Department leader, with even limited computer experience, can model and simulate their Emergency Department within a few hours,” says VP, Application Development, Jerry Kolbuck.
“The most difficult part of the simulation is actually the data collection of assessment times, treatment times, etc.,” continues Mr. Kolbuck. “However, most Emergency Departments have this data already, from other studies. Even without previous data, it is surprising how closely physicians can estimate all of the required data. One of the issues generally discussed is lab turnaround times – some days it’s thirty minutes, other days it’s an hour and a half. But, that’s the point of the simulation – run it with a thirty minute turnaround, and then see what the effect on patient experience is like with a ninety minute turnaround. You can quickly see where turnaround time, or time to admit a patient, or delay for a consultation, can have a dramatic effect on patient throughput.”
A seven day fully functional trial copy of ED Simulation can be downloaded from edsimulation.com. Included in the download is a sample simulation file that can be used to test your assumptions on the effects of changes in physician schedules, turnaround times, or even the effect of one additional car accident at 2am.