Decision support could benefit hospital bed management efforts

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Computer-based decision support would likely benefit case and bed management efforts by hospitals, a provisional study published this week in the journal BMC Medical Informatics & Decision Making concludes. The study, which was conducted at a hospital in Germany, aimed to determine the most efficient methods for determining hospital bed assignments, and involved a simulation of 226,000 cases.

Four strategies were examined: an exact approach, using a mixed integer programming solver; and three heuristic strategies looking into the longest expected processing time, the shortest expected processing time, and random choice. The latter was determined to be the "preferred method for bed assignment," although the researcher said that more research was needed on a larger scale.

"Bed capacity is a crucial but limited hospital resource," the study's authors wrote. "Bed management is often part of the more general effort at improvement patient treatment and maintaining a constant throughput of patients. Currently, many hospitals have formed teams of case and bed managers dedicated to these tasks."

According to the study's authors, the simulation revealed a reduction of dismissal rates of more than 30 percentage points and "may present a way to increase the hospital's throughput in the future."

A study published in November in the journal Critical Care Medicine found that provider orders are useful as real-time length of stay prediction and patient flow management tools.

To learn more:
- here's the BMC Medical Informatics & Decision Making study
- here's the Critical Care Medicine abstract

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