Applying Queuing Theory to Health Care

In an era of healthcare reform, improving quality and safety, and decreasing healthcare cost have become even more important goals than before. Scientific management of patient flow is at the heart of our ability to achieve these goals. While on one hand we are faced with overcrowded facilities, on the other hand, the industry’s financial conditions do not allow us to add resources liberally. One key challenge is our ability to match random patient demand to fixed capacity. Queuing theory is a methodology that addresses this very challenge. Queuing theory was first used in telecommunications and then was adopted by all major industries, like airlines, the Internet and most service-delivery organizations. In the health care industry, however, queuing theory has not been utilized until recently. When used appropriately, the results are often dramatic: saving time, increasing revenue, and increasing staff and patient satisfaction.

IHO is pleased to announce a two-day seminar, Applying Queuing Theory to Health Care: A Necessary Step Toward Improving Quality of Care and Margin taught by Dr. Eugene Litvak and other faculty. Several different queuing theory models will be introduced and accompanied by extensive exercises. Different healthcare problems require different queuing models. The key is to know specifically which model to apply in what healthcare setting. At the end of this seminar, you will be able to solve the following types of problems at your organization:

  • How many nurses do you need at a time on any inpatient unit?
  • Should you add another CT scanner to your radiology service?
  • How many beds do you need to staff in your ED at different times of the day or days of the week?
  • Is it necessary to hire an additional anesthesiologist for out-of-OR services?
  • How many registration staff, nurses, other providers, or exam rooms do you need to provide open access services in your clinic setting?
  • What additional resources (nurses, beds, etc.), if any, do you need to decrease your rate of left without being seen in the ED?
  • How many phlebotomists do you need to guarantee acceptable waiting times?
  • What is the highest occupancy / utilization rate you can tolerate?
  • How many beds or staff should you budget for?

There is absolutely no way to answer any of the above questions without queuing theory. Everything else would be guessing.

Who Should Attend

The problems that this seminar aims to tackle affect everyone from frontline caregivers all the way to senior decision makers in a healthcare organization because of the substantial organizational performance, quality and financial implications. While everyday queuing analyses may be performed by a few select individuals, it is important for senior leaders to have an understanding of potential solutions. Therefore representation from senior leadership and clinicians in addition to personnel responsible for data analysis would enhance your benefit from this seminar.

Senior Management

  • Inform your capital and operational budgeting process based on service (i.e. waiting time), quality and cost performance
  • Better match your staffing and other resources to patient demand thereby improving organizational performance and reducing waste

Department and Division Clinical and Operational Managers

  • Organize your resources (e.g. staff, equipment, provider room allocation) based on your demand mix (e.g. elective, urgent, etc.)
  • Improve staff and patient satisfaction by ensuring correct resources are available to match patient demand at various times of the day and days of the week

Performance Improvement / Decision Support

  • Enhance your toolkit with a mathematical approach that addresses key physician and executive concerns about system reliability and service performance

Application of Queuing theory is most beneficial in the following areas:

  • Emergency Department
  • Inpatient units
  • Cardiac Cath Lab
  • Radiology and Interventional Radiology
  • Operating Room
  • Labs – inpatient and walk-in
  • Any walk-in services such as PCP offices

When: May 17-18, 2012

Where: Boston, MA

Please contact us if you are interested in upcoming Queuing Seminars