Software gift used in operating room optimization project
To describe the development of an optimization model for a hospital’s surgical operations as “challenging” is to understate its difficulty.
“Surgery is very complex,” said Mustafa Sir, an industrial engineering assistant professor who has been working on just such a project. “It’s hard to capture every detail in a mathematical model. You really must use simulation software.”
Sir, Kalyan Pasupathy, an assistant professor in health management and informatics, and research assistants Eric Miederia and graduate student Rung-Chuan Lin, are working with IMSE alumnus Brian Whorley – employed by Columbia’s Boone Hospital Center to “make processes leaner, simpler and more efficient” – to maximize the limited resources of the hospital’s surgical functions. They have used the project as a test run for a $50,000 simulation software package gifted to the department by Simio and to develop a product of their own.
“There are so many resources that come into play in pre-op, the operating room and in post surgery,” said Sir. “The number of beds, the surgical team, orderlies, different types of nurses, anesthetists and more.”
Simulation software called Arena has been the gold standard in the Mizzou Engineering’s industrial engineering department until now, but this project has revealed some of Simio simulation software’s advantages.
“Arena is process-oriented and Simio is object-oriented. Everything is drag and drop. It’s very user friendly,” said Miederia. “Its more robust and prettier.”
“With Simio, you can actually simulate a process the same way it looks in real life because it creates an animated 3-D world,” said Sir. “You can see a nurse, for instance, interact with a patient. That makes it great to use when making a presentation to a client. You can show them exactly what is happening.”
As part of the project, the research team also came up with a novel multi-criteria simulation optimization model with a feedback loop.
“The optimization model looks at subjective functions like customer satisfaction,” said Miederia. “We can loop the optimization model back into the simulation model and run them repeatedly to make optimize the results,” said Miederia, who is working as an intern for Cerner this summer before returning to MU in the fall to earn his MBA.
“Rung wrote an entire simulation code using Matlab and C++ to make some calculations for the model,” said Sir. “We can try different combinations and change anything in the model, and the model is applicable to any process.”
The BHC project is ongoing, and the group is most pleased with how the model they’ve developed is working. “We’re publishing a paper about it next year,” Sir added. “We’re excited.”