Improving Emergency Department Processes and Patient Flow with Simulation

Healthcare organizations rely on our simulation software to examine and test emergency department systems, improve patient flow and reduce costs in a low-risk environment.

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 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.


Patient volumes and resource needs, as well as arrival patterns can be tested with simulation - although these are out of an EDs’ control, they can be estimated using historical data and probability distributions.

Performance improvements   

Factors which EDs have direct control over and can be altered using simulation to improve outputs, including patient flow management, staff scheduling and capacity management.


Indicators of ED efficiency such as patient flow and throughput, delays or waiting times, capacity and resource utilization can be measured in the simulation based on inputs and performance improvement strategies.

Emergency department quality improvement case study

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."

Read full case study

Johns Hopkins Health System

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