Self-Simulating Software for Service Operations in the Health Care Industry

This project targets a key element to improve a hospital’s operating efficiency. Currently, doctors and administrators can produce animations on how to visualize and improve the operational efficiency of an emergency room—indicating who should be where and in what order processes should happen. However, there is no way to analyze that behavior as to whether it is the most efficient and beneficial to the patient.

The researchers aim to develop a system that uses multiple data inputs, such as smart phones, RFID tags, and existing systems. They will focus on which collection models work best, document how this data can be used to generate a simulation, and detail a standardized interface for data collection and storage. Once the data is accurately collected, it will be used to design a self-simulating system that can organically simulate human behavior and interactions. This type of simulation—continuously generated using present data—should prove more useful for analysis than simulations built based upon past data.

The researchers have also recently started collaboration with the University of California, San Francisco emergency department to test RFID location tracking systems. Dr. John Stein, the contact at UCSF, has expressed interest in our simulation software in conjunction with testing the impact of kiosks used in the emergency department. Together, we have applied for the next round of funding from the National Institute of Health and the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality as well as the National Science Foundation.

Our current software parses RFID location data and identifies possible activities. The simulation then records the patient and personnel involved. The simulation records the duration of the activity and finally groups the activity with other similar activities. These activities are put into the simulation engine and then use this data to simulate the emergency department. Our software strives to remain as non-invasive and automated as possible. Testing can begin the moment UCSF’s RFID system begins collecting data.