Simulating Solutions at St. Boniface Hospital

April 16 2021

Amrit Deol loves simulation computer games, which happens to dovetail nicely with his role as a Clinical Informatics Analyst at St. Boniface Hospital. When the call came out for innovative ideas that needed funding through the Réseau Compassion Network Inspiration Grant, he was ready with a great concept.

“I’d gone to a boot camp at the University of Saskatchewan a number of years ago and there was a professor there who was a big champion of simulation tools, especially for health care models,” explains Deol. “With my background in logistics and my love of simulation games, it was an obvious fit for me. I knew this technology could save us time and money.”

Once his grant application was approved, Deol purchase AnyLogic on behalf of the hospital and it didn’t take long for an opportunity to arise where it could be helpful. “As part of the upcoming Emergency Department redevelopment project, many areas will be relocated temporarily,” he says. “The clerks in the registration department had some concerns about the layout of their new temporary space, and normally there’d be no way to validate that in advance of actually being in the space and working in it.”

With his in-depth knowledge of the patient data from the hospital, Deol created a computer simulation with real patient flow examples in the new space. It ran through many different scenarios and showed that, eventually, the new area might run out of space. It took into account different patient loads, the staffing and scheduling of the clerks and the physical constraints. “With the advent of social distancing, this was more important than ever,” Deol confirms.

While Deol is a self-proclaimed numbers guy, he recognizes that not everyone can read data like he can. AnyLogic allows the data to be presented in many ways, including animations. “We know that this is really effective,” he explains. “In Australia, there was a case study of a new maternity ward design that had staff really concerned about impacts to them and their patients. When they ran the simulation and were able to visually show how things would work, those fears were alleviated. Providing this complex information visually is important.”

The simulation doesn’t just identify what potential issues might arise but allows solutions to be test-driven long before any physical changes are made. “We were able to add a chair outside and see what impact that made, or add a registration clerk, and see what impact that made,” he says. “Then, we can show management all the options, based on actual data from our patients. They can make decisions based on reliable data instead of best guesses.”

As a first project for AnyLogic, Deol is very happy with the results. “I can’t wait to see what other ways we’ll be able to support decision-making and the patient experience,” he concludes.

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