A team of mathematicians at the Australian research centre CSIRO is developing software that can predict the likelihood of hospital emergency departments having to ‘go on bypass’ and turn away ambulances carrying critically ill patients.
Typically, ‘bypass’ occurs at a hospital either when all the cubicles in the emergency department are full or when all the clinicians on duty are fully occupied, or both.
‘The system we are developing predicts the likelihood of bypass occurring in the near future by forecasting patient arrival rates and comparing the expected staffing needs with current workload and staff levels. It enables the hospital to manage its workload more efficiently by providing forewarning of very high demand for emergency services,’ said CSIRO mathematician David Sier.
“Broadly speaking, there are two parts to the system, modelling how the emergency department looks right now and then forecasting the demand in the next, say, one to eight hours.”
The system is designed to run on a hospital Intranet. It extracts patient arrival data from hospital admissions and emergency department databases.
CSIRO scientists are also developing a range of other decision support tools for use in non-clinical aspects of health system management. These tools will help optimise use of resources such as hospital beds, pathology laboratories, medical equipment and healthcare professionals.