Flexsim Healthcare 41 BETTER
Several studies have focused on the influence of COVID-19 on EDs and ICUs [3,4,5,6,7,8,9], while less emphasis has been given to outpatient services [2,10,11]. This is a consequence of the non-urgent services being locked down for extended periods, while EDs and ICUs have faced ongoing emergencies. For ensuring a safe restart of the entire healthcare system, the reopening of outpatient clinics respecting the COVID-19 anti-contagion guidelines allows a reduction of the pressure on hospitals. In the face of what has been stated, the present study aims at exploring the potential effects of the policies against the proliferation of SARS-CoV-2 in outpatient medical facilities. Specifically, this research investigates how the guidelines, introduced as a consequence of the pandemic emergency, modify patient flow and the key performance areas of a new Smart Clinic (SC) of Gruppo San Donato (GSD).
Flexsim healthcare 41
The method pursued to perform this study is Discrete-Event Simulation (DES) [12,13]. The technique is based on the concept of modelling the operations of a real-world system as a discrete series of events over time. DES allows us to gain knowledge of the process functions without committing resources for their implementation or physically interacting with them. Moreover, the approach represents a valuable tool for evaluation and comparison, quantifying how well a system behaves compared against specific criteria or even other systems, enabling the user to interpret input conditions, process them and estimate their effects. The DES method, in the last 30 years, has represented one of the most valuable methodologies for the analysis of the healthcare process. A DES model used for increasing throughput in an emergency department (ED) in the USA was developed [14,15,16]. The development of a simulation model is very useful in healthcare systems, but it is impossible and impractical to have a DES model for an entire hospital, as models are intended to be simplifications . An appropriate level of abstraction and a precise scope must be chosen . Given its great flexibility, DES has proven to be a worthy instrument for the analysis of care processes [19,20,21,22,23], as it allows the management of stochastic activities comprehensively . The selected software package is FlexSim Healthcare, which has been successfully used in the resolution of a variety of medical issues [25,26,27,28,29]. The adaptation of the FlexSim simulation to healthcare environments has been undertaken, but the use of this software has not yet been explored to comprehend the current emergency.
The baseline scenario represents the healthcare activities in a daily routine. The diagnostic department achieves good results in terms of operational and productivity KPIs. In particular, the MRI machine employment is equivalent to 76%. Downtimes are discerned and justified. Then, the behaviour of the GSD SC is implemented for simulating the contemporary pandemic environment, meaning that the anti-contagion regulations enrich the original simulation. Highlighting potential abnormalities due to the presence of the COVID-19 factor is immediately feasible; the operational KPIs seem to be positively affected, while the productivity KPIs are negatively influenced. On one side, there is a global reduction in patient stay-time and idle time. On the other side, reductions in the number of people treated by the diagnostic department, MRI machine usage and staff utilization are assessed. In addition, the actual inefficiencies prompting the device downtime become more influential.