Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Simulation & Emerging Processes; A Hospital Evacuation Case Study

Processes are changing from predictable and structured to emerging and adaptive. For those processes that require multiple dynamic sets of patterns and conditions are quite often helped by simulation. This changes the view of simulation from a  "design and go away" approach to an active and involved decision assist for emerging processes. This case study shows that simulation is for adaptive processes as well. Unfortunately the driver for these kinds of efforts were a number of catastrophes recently with bad weather taking center stage.

The Problem:

How do hospitals ensure that they are prepared to respond to a catastrophe like a tornado, a hurricane, a flood etc. Any combination of consequences can prove detrimental to the safety of patients such as power outages, HVAC damage, destructed roads & bridges, distances to safe hospitals and so on.

The Solution:

Emergency preparedness plans were tailored specifically for a number of hospitals considering each ones characteristics and needs. These hospitals answered the call by deploying a hospital-focused instance of simulation technology with an evacuation perspective.  This simulation technology leveraged an underlying agent-based model to simulate the behaviors of the hospital staff, evacuating patients, medical transportation, supplies, facilities and other agents to account for a wide array of variables that would likely impact an evacuation scenario. This model accounted for specific information, such as number of beds and supplies, building floors, elevators and distances to safe hospitals, staging areas and ambulance bay sizes. The designers and developers used software frameworks to build an intuitive, web-based "SimCity" like visual environment on top of the simulation model allowing executives and managers a "bird's eye" perspective of the facilities and a multitude of staffing and evacuation decisions. Then they could observe how their decisions "play out" by watching animations of people evacuating their hospital.

The Results:

The hospitals are now supporting full day seminars to their leadership teams and local emergency personnel to practice simulation plays in real-time through a carefully designed curriculum to prepare participants with the demands and pressures of an actual evacuation event. All parities will be ready to help save lives under duress instead of potentially reacting poorly.

Net; Net:

If simulation can help with emerging catastrophes, it can help process managers and participants with emerging and connected process or cases for non hospital situations.

This is a highly summarized and anonymous case study provided by Simudyne