Improve Emergency Department Processes and Patient Flow with Simulation


Healthcare organizations use simulation software to safely test changes to emergeny department processes, resources and patient volumes to identify ways of improving efficiency and reducing costs.


How can simulation improve emergency department efficiency?



According to a national survey by the Institute of Medicine, 91% of US emergency departments (EDs) reported crowding as a problem, with 40% indicating that it was a daily occurrence.

This is a key issue for healthcare organizations as it can compromise care quality, patient safety and satisfaction and lead to delays and increased costs.

Although there are many uncontrollable external factors which contribute to crowding, there are several factors that can be addressed to improve the use of resources and patient flow.

Altering department layouts, increasing in-patient beds, refining operational processes and more effectively managing staffing levels are examples of ways to reduce congestion and increase patient satisfaction rates.

But how can emergency departments safely test the impact of changes without compromising services and costs?

Discrete event simulation tools like SIMUL8 are relied on to visually model emergency department flow systems, uncovering opportunities to improve operational efficiency in a low-risk environment.

What ED metrics can be tested and measured with simulation software?


SIMUL8 is an extremely flexible tool, enabling emergency departments to easily test, measure and implement process changes and identify the effect of changes across complex systems.



Predict and manage demand surges and constraints

Utilize existing data sources and predictive analysis to accurately identify or forecast capacity constraints and surges in demand.

As simulation mirrors real processes in a visual way, you’ll easily see where queues and waiting times are happening – days, months or even years into the future.

Test process changes in a safe, digital environment

Conduct powerful ‘what-if’ analysis to understand the impact of any changes in processes, resources, patient volumes and capacity on emergency department performance.

Simulation allows you to thoroughly test changes, without risk to patients and existing processes.

Make cost-effective, evidence-based decisions

Compare improvement scenarios across waiting times, throughput, costs, and other important measures.

This allows decisions to go beyond opinions and expert recommendations, and instead be based on evidence and quantifiable results for your hospital’s own circumstances.

Case study

Johns Hopkins Health System optimizes emergency department patient flow

Johns Hopkins Health System has utilized SIMUL8’s healthcare simulation software for over 10 years as an effective decision-making tool for optimizing emergency department throughput across its hospital network.

"With ongoing cost reductions and other restrictions within the healthcare environment, clearly our resources are getting to be very precious and scarce, so we need to use tools like SIMUL8 to make sure we are getting the highest performance we can get out of the most reasonable amount of resources."


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Johns Hopkins Health System

Featured emergency department quality improvement resources


Further resources


With an increase in patient demand and limited resources and capacity, the need to manage ED throughput has never been greater. Eric Hamrock (Johns Hopkins Health System) presents some of the lessons learned through more than a decade of simulation projects at three JHHS Emergency Departments.


In this series of webinars we hear about the fascinating collaboration between Leicestershire County, SIMUL8 Corporation, Loughborough University and Healthwatch Leicestershire and their challenge to reduce emergency hospital admissions.


Memorial Health successfully reduced the wait time for a CT scan by 30%, which has reduced length of stay, avoided a capital expenditure cost, and improved throughput in their Level I Trauma Center.


Dr. Paul Schmidt explores how simulation is being used to model a new operational strategy for unscheduled care at Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust.


A systematic review and an economic evaluation of Diagnostic management strategies for adults and children with minor head injuries in the UK Health System.


Simulation was used to identify and manage potential periods that could result in future under performance for the NHS's emergency contact center.


Simulation was used at the Golden Jubliee National Hospital's heart and lung center to assess if an enhanced schedule would improve waiting times and cancellations, or if more radical changes, such as capacity or other resource reallocations should be considered instead.

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Healthcare resources

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