Diagnostics and treatment of patients often involve several different clinics. When improving quality and efficiency in health care we therefore need to consider the entire pathway from the patient’s first contact with a health institution until the final discharge from the hospital and rehabilitation after the end of treatment. A system view is needed to consider the stochastic nature of acute patient arrivals, the variety of pathways through the clinics, and the stochastic time needed for diagnostics and treatment. A balancing of the capacity at the different clinics, in order to deliver health care services in due time, to improve the overall productivity or use of capacity, calls for a reallocation of resources. A successful accomplishment of such a process requires a common insight and agreement by the clinics and therefore representatives from the clinics participating in the analytical process. The clinician participation enables elucidation and use of information on organizational behaviour of importance for the daily operations. This type of information does not appear from the registered patient data and implies analytical tools, which are both simple and intuitive and capable of handling and displaying the type and amount of information needed in a trustworthy and consistent way.
Key Terms in this Chapter
System View: An expression that is meant to remind you that you should focus on the whole system and to prevent you from (sub-) optimizing parts of it.
System Dynamics: A methodology for studying and managing complex feedback systems, such as one finds in business and other social systems.
Balancing Health Care Capacity: Coordinating the capacities for the operational units involved in flow of patient in order to avoid bottlenecks and to secure a high rate in capacity usage.
Simulation: Calculating systems or health care organizations operational behaviour based on a mathematical model describing the system and with varying values for central parameters in the model.
Visualization: Making maps showing the patient flows and central variables controlling the flows. Through the maps, different actors in the health care organizations elicit their common mental model of the system under consideration.