Bed Management and Capacity Planning with Simulation

Inpatient stays are one of the most expensive areas of healthcare - better bed management could save $1.8 million per quarter per hospital and improve patient outcomes.

Healthcare organizations use SIMUL8’s Bed.P.A.C. simulation software to develop long-term bed capacity solutions and identify when bed shortages could occur.

How can simulation move bed capacity planning beyond spreadsheets?

Managing bed capacity is crucial to the smooth running of a hospital, since all departments are in some way dependent on bed availability.

Hospital beds are required for patients needing emergency care as well as procedures. Requirements differ depending on the time of arrival, by hour, day, week and month and the needs and characteristics of the particular patient.

Given this complexity and wealth of evidence on variation, it is surprising that many hospital planners still use deterministic spreadsheets to plan their bed capacity, based on average demand.

Bed planning can’t be management in silo, it is important to look at the system as a whole which is not possible with spreadsheets.

Simulation is a more sophisticated way of managing the variation in demand that is experienced by hospitals, and produces results which are much more accurate than spreadsheets.

What are the benefits of using simulation software to plan bed management?

Every decision in your hospital impacts on bed availability, and capacity impacts on overall patient flow. A change in one part of the hospital can improve or disrupt the overall system.

Simulation is the only solution to provide this complete overview, enabling hospitals to:


Gain insight into how policy changes will impact your bed requirements. Test, plan and experiment with bed demand and management in a risk-free environment and identify when you will run out of beds.


Improve the patient experience by testing the impact of improvement decisions on cancellations, waits and costs. Be confident that your decision is the right one for costs and patient care.


Get departments working together on patient placement decisions. Sharing forecasts will provide stakeholders with the visibility and information needed for decision making.

Case study: improving bed planning with simulation

SIMUL8's Bed.P.A.C. simulation tool helped NHS Isle of Wight to gain an extra 17% capacity for medical inpatients within their existing bed base.

"Bed.P.A.C. has stood up to scrutiny from clinicians and managers within the Trust, consequently the results output have led to constructive discussions about solutions to issues rather than ongoing debates about the integrity of the modeling. Consultants have been particularly impressed by our ability to recognize the maximum bed requirements and how often a certain number of beds will be utilized rather than referring to average bed requirements."

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NHS Isle of Wight

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Blog insight

Variation is Undermining your Bed Capacity Planning

Planning bed capacity is incredibly complex – managing bed availability on the wards is crippling staff and there is no simple solution. In this blog post, SIMUL8’s Lead for Healthcare, Claire Cordeaux discusses the issues and effects of variation in demand for planning bed management.

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Managing Bed Capacity Towards a Solution

SIMUL8 Executive Director, Health and Social Care, Claire Cordeaux introduces our bed management solution Bed.P.A.C. Find out how better bed management can save approximately $1.8 million per quarter per hospital and improve patient outcomes.

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How Simulation can Improve Bed Capacity Management

We show how simulation can help streamline bed management, reduce patient waiting times and improve outcomes. This webinar draws on recent simulation projects to consider the questions that need to be answered and lessons learned for developing simulation models in this area.

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