COVID-19 Capacity Planning Tool Provides Advanced Analytics and Improved Operational Effectiveness

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EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

COVID-19 capacity planningCOVID-19 is causing many hospitals and health systems to face resource and capacity restrictions, making the accurate estimation of COVID-19 requirements crucial. Carle Health needed the ability to anticipate the impact COVID-19 would have on its organization and community. After analyzing national COVID-19 capacity planning resources, Carle chose a model that was customized for its organization. Carle leveraged its analytics platform, using local data and infection rates to forecast the impact of COVID-19 locally. The organization now has critical insight into when surges will occur and can determine if it has enough available resources.

Featured Outcomes:

  • Carle has embraced data science by implementing and integrating a COVID-19 capacity planning tool into daily operations in less than two months.
  • The organization is using advanced analytics for its capacity planning efforts and to support its leadership team in making timely decisions, improving the effectiveness of COVID-19 planning and response.

COVID-19 CHALLENGES CAPACITY PLANNING AND RESPONSE

Accurately forecasting COVID-19 demand is critical for hospitals and health systems, many of which face extraordinary resource and capacity constraints.1 Carle recognized its need to accurately estimate the impact COVID-19 would have on its organization and the surrounding community.

EFFECTIVE COVID-19 PREPARATION REQUIRES DETAILED AND DIVERSE DATA

Carle needed a way to anticipate and meet the demand for facility, supply, and human resources required to care for patients with COVID-19 in their community. National and even county-level COVID-19 capacity planning resources are not adequate to determine how to balance load and shift services at an individual hospital and unit level.

ANALYTICS CRITICAL FOR COVID-19 CAPACITY PLANNING

Carle leveraged the Health Catalyst® Data Operating System (DOS™) platform and a robust suite of analytics applications, including a capacity planning tool that uses Healthcare.AI™, to forecast census and related bed, staffing, and supply needs at the level of patient acuity. Carle uses dynamic regional infection spread and market share data and augments these assets with the internal clinical, operational, length of stay, staff, and supply data to anticipate COVID-19 activity.

Carle now has critical insight into when patient surges will occur and can efficiently identify if those surges will exhaust its available resources, or when they have capacity for non-emergent cases, improving the organization’s ability to plan and act. Leaders use the forecasting data to inform decisions and adjust operations as needed to accommodate increasing demand.

RESULTS

By using DOS, the capacity planning tool, and Healthcare.AI, Carle has achieved the following results:

  • Carle has embraced data science by implementing and integrating the capacity planning tool into daily operations in less than two months.
  • The organization is using advanced analytics for its capacity planning efforts and to support its leadership team in making timely decisions, improving the effectiveness of COVID-19 planning and response.
  • For example, Carle was able to identify an upcoming surge in infections and demand for inpatient beds five days before the surge occurred. Leadership was prepared to respond to the upcoming increase in demand, activate contingency staffing plans, and adjust its staffing model to ensure it made the best use of its nursing staff’s skills and abilities while also providing safe patient care. Leaders used the forecasted increase in demand to engage Carle’s supply chain, reaching out to suppliers to obtain adequate supplies in time.
  • Carle continues to refine and improve the capacity planning tool. As confidence grew in the five-day model, Carle has moved to a seven-day model, giving more lead time.

“The Health Catalyst partnership and COVID-19 capacity planning tool are powerful, and we’ve already identified how we can use data science and advanced analytics to improve other health issues.”

– Robert Healy, MD, Chief Quality Officer

WHAT’S NEXT

Carle will continue to monitor COVID-19 forecasts and leverage its robust data and analytics to continually enhance the capacity planning tool, making certain it is well prepared to meet the needs of its patients and communities.

REFERENCES

  1. Department of Evidence and Intelligence for Action in Health. (2020). Why predictive modeling is critical in the fight against COVID-19. Fact Sheet N.8. Retrieved from https://iris.paho.org/handle/10665.2/52276

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