Simulation Modeling for Healthcare  |  Testing design solutions in real time

Reducing waste in healthcare processes using industrial engineering methods and lean principles can dramatically improve results related to the key issues confronting healthcare providers today. Increasing demand is outpacing providers and costs continue to grow beyond the rate of inflation. These pressures then impact the quality of care being delivered. We believe that by seeking out operational improvements, we can find efficiencies that generate more of that most valuable commodity: time.

Our method to this is to use simulation modeling to identify and reduce the waste in the eight flows of healthcare. Simulation modeling involves using models run on discrete-event modeling software that can simulate real world processes in a virtual environment. The software can quickly model countless different scenarios over multiple cycles and project outcomes. The ability to cycle through hundreds, if not thousands, of cases in a short amount of time is something just not possible in the real world. Boulder Associates uses FlexSim HC, a discrete-event modeling software developed specifically for healthcare.

The patient drives all the activity in the model just like a real-life healthcare setting. The simulation model uses real-world data and/or statistical distributions to provide predictive analytics and insight, allowing us to test ideas in real-time. It allows for each model to be created to your unique environment using the list of activities and processes that have been assigned based on a patient’s acuity, diagnosis, and any other user-defined attributes.

Simulation modeling allows stakeholders to try multiple changes to process and/or design developed through kaizen or continuous improvement and test the changes using the unique conditions in your facility. This key step allows you to test for outlying conditions such as peak load, as well as answering questions such as “at what volume or patient mix will the process break down?” or “when will this department need more space?” Simulation modeling allows the team test and vet multiple scenarios under historical data as well as test future facility planning. It can help identify chokepoints and opportunities for improving flow and the patient experience, and links master facility planning to daily continuous improvement and the scientific method.