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PLoS One ; 18(2): e0282331, 2023.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-2260147


Hospital bed demand forecast is a first-order concern for public health action to avoid healthcare systems to be overwhelmed. Predictions are usually performed by estimating patients flow, that is, lengths of stay and branching probabilities. In most approaches in the literature, estimations rely on not updated published information or historical data. This may lead to unreliable estimates and biased forecasts during new or non-stationary situations. In this paper, we introduce a flexible adaptive procedure using only near-real-time information. Such method requires handling censored information from patients still in hospital. This approach allows the efficient estimation of the distributions of lengths of stay and probabilities used to represent the patient pathways. This is very relevant at the first stages of a pandemic, when there is much uncertainty and too few patients have completely observed pathways. Furthermore, the performance of the proposed method is assessed in an extensive simulation study in which the patient flow in a hospital during a pandemic wave is modelled. We further discuss the advantages and limitations of the method, as well as potential extensions.

Hospitals , Pandemics , Humans , Equipment and Supplies, Hospital , Computer Simulation , Patients
Cent Eur J Oper Res ; 30(1): 213-249, 2022.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1653544


This paper presents a discrete event simulation model to support decision-making for the short-term planning of hospital resource needs, especially Intensive Care Unit (ICU) beds, to cope with outbreaks, such as the COVID-19 pandemic. Given its purpose as a short-term forecasting tool, the simulation model requires an accurate representation of the current system state and high fidelity in mimicking the system dynamics from that state. The two main components of the simulation model are the stochastic modeling of patient admission and patient flow processes. The patient arrival process is modelled using a Gompertz growth model, which enables the representation of the exponential growth caused by the initial spread of the virus, followed by a period of maximum arrival rate and then a decreasing phase until the wave subsides. We conducted an empirical study concluding that the Gompertz model provides a better fit to pandemic-related data (positive cases and hospitalization numbers) and has superior prediction capacity than other sigmoid models based on Richards, Logistic, and Stannard functions. Patient flow modelling considers different pathways and dynamic length of stay estimation in several healthcare stages using patient-level data. We report on the application of the simulation model in two Autonomous Regions of Spain (Navarre and La Rioja) during the two COVID-19 waves experienced in 2020. The simulation model was employed on a daily basis to inform the regional logistic health care planning team, who programmed the ward and ICU beds based on the resulting predictions.