Healthcare simulation: from hospital design to mass vaccination

Healthcare simulation

The application of simulation modeling is quite wide and various. It is used in manufacturing, agriculture, energy, oil and gas, retail, and even healthcare.

Healthcare simulation provides detailed analysis with valuable insights. Experiments with simulation models can show capacity and resource utilization, help identify challenges, and lead to the right solutions based on the analysis of test results.

With simulation, you can manage process flows, resource utilization, scheduling, allocations, hospital design, pharmaceutical supply chains, production planning in the pharmaceutical industry, as well as develop disease spread and mitigation strategies. Simulation was frequently used during COVID-19 for evaluating disease spread and mass vaccination.

Let’s look at healthcare-related tasks that you can accomplish with simulation.

Hospital design, process flows, and asset placement

Engineers can design a maternity ward in a hospital with the use of discrete-event modeling in AnyLogic. Using the elements of the Process Modeling Library and Material Handling Library, modelers simulated material handling processes in a hospital.

The patient flow simulation in a hospital waiting room is a good example of applying discrete-event modeling for operations testing and planning. Another example is a model of the facility operations during COVID-19.

Healthcare policy planning, resource utilization, and scheduling

Continuing the topic of patient flow simulation, let’s look at how modeling can improve doctors’ scheduling in hospitals. One of our clients wanted to develop a scheduling methodology that would benefit the doctors and patients of the outpatient clinic. The model helped doctors test different theories about their working schedules and see how the schedule affected the clinic’s operations.

Another model was developed using the Process Modeling Library to help analyze several facility improvement options, such as staff levels and schedules, Express Care hours of operation, etc.

One of the clients used simulation for resolving a patient crowding problem in hospitals' emergency rooms. The outputs of the model helped to identify the ERs’ full capacity and better utilize human resources.

Data-driven healthcare resource utilization simulation can be used to test different configurations of a hospital in what-if scenarios or can be applied to other healthcare centers.

The statistics in simulation models can help estimate the quality of the provided care and show the resource utilization rate in a hospital. This helps to gain an understanding of whether the capacity is acceptable.

Also, AnyLogic allows the development of detailed models for healthcare decision support and measuring the impact of adopting new technologies, such as mobile stroke units.

Epidemic simulation, disease spread evaluation, and mitigation strategies

Simulation of epidemic trends can also be implemented using AnyLogic software. Simulation modeling results can help inform decision-making regarding the spread and effects of viruses and diseases. For example, to better understand the transmission of a new coronavirus among the population and the effects of control measures, an agent-based model was developed at the outset of the COVID-19 outbreak. It helped analyze how quickly this coronavirus could spread through a Chinese population

Epidemic models are important for deploying and coordinating its further prevention and control. Hybrid dynamic models provide insight and decision support when applied to challenges such as the COVID-19 outbreak. An agent-based epidemic model evaluates the impact of non-pharmaceutical interventions on the COVID-19 virus spread. In addition, agent-based epidemic simulation can show the dynamics of tuberculosis transmission.

To simulate ongoing processes in a drive-through mass vaccination clinic, an experimental model was created using discrete-event and agent-based modeling methods.

Using agent-based simulation, engineers developed a predictive healthcare model and simulated personalized treatment processes with great precision. Thanks to modeling, doctors could make informed decisions on drug dosage for a patient and observe a treatment effect.

Pharmaceutical supply chains, production planning, and marketing

Simulation is also useful in pharmaceutical supply chains and production planning. For example, a vaccine manufacturer could determine an optimal vaccine supply chain design from the standpoint of costs and service level.

An agent-based pharmaceutical marketing model for a drug manufacturer indicated for how much time a direct-to-consumer marketing campaign would be effective and helped save the company's budget.

We have looked at various cases of healthcare modeling applications. Each simulation model in AnyLogic accomplished important objectives: improving resource utilization, optimizing process flows, or better understanding epidemic trends. These simulations could help mitigate the impacts of the epidemics and significantly contribute to the healthcare system.

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