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It’s inevitable that at some point in all our lives we’ll end up in hospital, which is why The Hospital Research Foundation (THRF) is dedicated to ensuring you and your loved ones receive the best care available to you during your stay.
Armed with a THRF project grant, Professors Mark Mackay, Robert Adams and Nigel Bean will be using computer simulation to understand the flow of patients in General Medicine at The Queen Elizabeth Hospital (TQEH) and to develop strategies around reducing the time and improving flow through the system.
“The health system runs pretty close to capacity at most times, meaning the ability to cope with change or variation is difficult,” Professor Mackay explained.
“We want to understand how patients move through the health system. There are some who may stay a short amount of time, but others who stay longer and use a larger proportion of resources. We’re looking at modelling the patient journey to see what changes could potentially be made to assist hospitals with improving patient flow.”
Professors Mackay, Adams and Bean will be applying methods already commonly used in other industries in their work at TQEH.
“In any other area of medicine when you want to improve something you run a clinical trial. Our principle is that if you want to change anything in services you ought to trial it beforehand and evaluate it with the same amount of rigour as a new drug. Since you can’t do that with real people, our aim is to do it in a simulated environment,” Prof Adams said.
“We’ll be using recorded data around what happens to individual patients when they come to hospital, so what time do they come in, what date and how many resources they’ve received throughout their journey.
“The idea is that once the data is entered into the simulation, you’ll be able to test what changes may or may not work. The simulation can speed up or slow down, it can show you how flow is affected over a certain number of years. It will show how what you change in one area of the hospital may affect another area,” Prof Mackay added.
“By the end of it you should be able to test a change and find out what the outcome and effect is going to be when applied to the hospital. The other advantage of the simulation is that you can show people who are directly involved, talk them through the process and demonstrate visually what will occur.”
Working with a multi-disciplinary team of clinicians, mathematicians, statisticians and nurses to produce the simulation, Professors Mackay, Adams and Bean are confident it will reflect the needs of all professionals involved in providing health care.
“We’re taking a purely academic exercise and connecting it with a set of clinicians and real life clinical problems,” Prof Adams said.
This simulation will prove vital in ensuring you and your family receive the best care available to you at your next hospital visit, making a difficult time that much easier. We look forward to keeping you informed as this vital work progresses.
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