Decision Support System for Hospital Selection in Emergency Medical Services: A Discrete Event Simulation Approach
Commenced in January 2007
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Edition: International
Paper Count: 32870
Decision Support System for Hospital Selection in Emergency Medical Services: A Discrete Event Simulation Approach

Authors: D. Tedesco, G. Feletti, P. Trucco

Abstract:

The present study aims to develop a Decision Support System (DSS) to support operational decisions in Emergency Medical Service (EMS) systems regarding the assignment of medical emergency requests to Emergency Departments (ED). This problem is called “hospital selection” and concerns the definition of policies for the selection of the ED to which patients who require further treatment are transported by ambulance. The employed research methodology consists of a first phase of review of the technical-scientific literature concerning DSSs to support the EMS management and, in particular, the hospital selection decision. From the literature analysis, it emerged that current studies mainly focused on the EMS phases related to the ambulance service and consider a process that ends when the ambulance is available after completing a mission. Therefore, all the ED-related issues are excluded and considered as part of a separate process. Indeed, the most studied hospital selection policy turned out to be proximity, thus allowing to minimize the travelling time and to free-up the ambulance in the shortest possible time. The purpose of the present study consists in developing an optimization model for assigning medical emergency requests to the EDs also considering the expected time performance in the subsequent phases of the process, such as the case mix, the expected service throughput times, and the operational capacity of different EDs in hospitals. To this end, a Discrete Event Simulation (DES) model was created to compare different hospital selection policies. The model was implemented with the AnyLogic software and finally validated on a realistic case. The hospital selection policy that returned the best results was the minimization of the Time To Provider (TTP), considered as the time from the beginning of the ambulance journey to the ED at the beginning of the clinical evaluation by the doctor. Finally, two approaches were further compared: a static approach, based on a retrospective estimation of the TTP, and a dynamic approach, focused on a predictive estimation of the TTP which is determined with a constantly updated Winters forecasting model. Findings reveal that considering the minimization of TTP is the best hospital selection policy. It allows to significantly reducing service throughput times in the ED with a negligible increase in travel time. Furthermore, an immediate view of the saturation state of the ED is produced and the case mix present in the ED structures (i.e., the different triage codes) is considered, as different severity codes correspond to different service throughput times. Besides, the use of a predictive approach is certainly more reliable in terms on TTP estimation, than a retrospective approach. These considerations can support decision-makers in introducing different hospital selection policies to enhance EMSs performance.

Keywords: Emergency medical services, hospital selection, discrete event simulation, forecast model.

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