Using Visual Analytics to Improve Hospital Scheduling and Patient Flow
The increasing demand for hospital emergency services has important implications for the allocation of limited public resources and the management of healthcare services. Although reform is an oft-cited way to improve the healthcare system, it has a limited ability to readily address this increasing demand. This paper presents an innovative approach to identify and translate feasible solutions to improve the efficiency of hospitals. Premised on visual analytics, the paper describes the way a software program was used to represent sonography department processes within a virtual environment. The processes were represented by collecting and assembling information about room capacity, room use, patient-scheduling practices, staff capacity, and equipment availability. The resulting model helped to identify areas for improvement and simulate viable options to improve these areas. This was associated with two clear benefits - it allowed solutions to be considered without making changes to the physical environment, and it provided a way to clearly demonstrate to staff the relationship between process change and improved efficiency. The paper concludes with directions for future research.