Simulation & Optimization modeling system

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Simulation and Optimization

PricewaterhouseCoopers healthcare practice has developed a dynamic modeling system designed to help organizations improve processes and minimize disruption. Originally designed in partnership between PwC's Bergen, Norway office and the University of Bergen, through the Centre of Excellence, PricewaterhouseCoopers is now applying the simulation and optimization methodology to organizations in the United States.

Sophisticated, credible models yield tangible results

The study of system dynamics brings a scientific approach to understanding process problems through the construction and analysis of virtual models. This modeling allows organizations to experiment with solutions to problems without incurring the expense and disruption involved with actually making changes before knowing what will work. A model is built to represent all interrelated factors in a problem, such as:

  • Physical models (equipment placing, distance between units)
  • Abstract models (correlations, dependencies, relations and consequences)
  • Economic models (costs, income)

These models are credible and have the capability of reproducing historical behavior, explaining phenomena, and predicting future performance. These models allow organizations to simulate their operations and experiment with policy, showing the eventual effects of chosen scenarios and the underlying cause and effect relationships. Optimization allows the best or worst possible outcome of processes to be calculated in order to learn how the system behaves and how it should be altered for peak performance.

How PricewaterhouseCoopers can help: A Case Study

A large Scandinavian hospital with more than 700 physicians and 2,700 nurses and 990 beds faced a number of operational challenges including:

  • Increased influx of emergency patients with no additional supply of bed capacity
  • Extensive "patient parking" and occupancy overload
  • Long and unnecessary wait times for emergency patients
  • Emergency treatment interferes with the elective treatment

PwC was asked to help improve emergency patient flow at the hospital as part of a major organizational change program. The engagement team leveraged a dynamic simulation model that focused on processes that occur in the emergency ward and on discharge of patients. Using quantitative information (i.e. anonymous patient data and distribution of diagnosis) as well as qualitative information (i.e. process maps, interviews, and direct observation) PricewaterhouseCoopers was able to help hospital officials understand how changes to their operations would be impacted. This led to significant changes in staffing patterns and improved emergency ward efficiency. This unique and approach to solving process flaws can serve other hospitals and organizations by:

  • Testing scenarios in a virtual, risk-free environment.
  • Visualizing and quantifying the effect of changes to an organizational system.
  • Strengthening the basis for strategic decisions.
  • Acting as a change management and communication tool to support tool to reduce resistance to change.
  • Ensuring higher quality results and benefits by implementation.
With so much pressure on healthcare organizations, simulation and optimization help executives make the best possible decisions and maximize the value of their investments in process improvement.