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Simulation as a decision support tool for hospitals' surgery planning: A case study for process improvement at a major hospital in Sweden
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Science and Technology, Technology, Department of Engineering Sciences, Industrial Engineering & Management.
2019 (English)Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (Two Years)), 20 credits / 30 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

Healthcare systems, driven by increased demand due to growth in chronic diseases and population, suffer from lack of staffing and facility resources. Many major hospitals have long waiting lists and have subsequently pushed their production close to maximum capacity due to the high demand for services. The consequences are lack of overview of the operations and lack of coordination between healthcare staff, which leads to treatment delays. Surgery planning or scheduling is an important part of production planning in hospitals, which is considered highly complex due to high variability and many decisions variables that need to be considered. Those responsible for surgery planning are often considered to lack the right tools to support them in evaluating the many different decision factors.   Simulation is a technology within the field of operations research which has been applied to aid with surgery planning problems and to look for process improvements. Many studies however use a simplified approach to the surgery planning, due to the complexities of the planning problem. Studies have further argued that surgery planning fails to consider downstream resources and the negative effects it has on utilization of those resources.

This thesis is based on a case study at one of Sweden’s major hospitals and aims to explore how simulation could become a decision support to help with surgery planning and identifying what process improvements such a tool could be aimed at. The surgery planning decision making process is first analyzed using a hierarchical framework for hospitals’ production planning. The results were that the decision making process regarding patient flows needs to be improved by taking both a top-down and bottom-up strategy for better information flow and coordination. The study further concludes that improved coordination and information sharing are important factors to improve patient flow through the hospital, which could be supported by the usage of Discrete Event Simulation for decision making. The ideal decision support tool is however considered the simulation tool embedded with an online system to support bed management decisions which could increase patient throughput. Such a tool could help to decrease the demand for the hospital’s beds by discharging patients quicker. In addition, it could support the bottom-up strategy for coordination, while implementing a multi-method or hybrid simulation could further support the top-down part of the strategy.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2019. , p. 86
Series
TVE-MILI ; 19041
Keywords [en]
Production planning, surgery planning, decision support tools, simulation, DES, process improvement, process mapping, bed management, patient flows, healthcare
National Category
Other Engineering and Technologies not elsewhere specified
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-395967OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-395967DiVA, id: diva2:1365974
External cooperation
Akademiska Sjukhuset
Educational program
Master Programme in Industrial Management and Innovation
Supervisors
Examiners
Available from: 2019-10-28 Created: 2019-10-27 Last updated: 2019-10-28Bibliographically approved

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