Realization of Process Improvement at a Diagnostic Radiology Department with Aid of Simulation Modeling

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Using the classical process improvement framework of Plan-Do-Study-Act (PDSA), the diagnostic radiology department of a tertiary hospital identified several patient cycle time reduction strategies. Experimentation of these strategies (which included procurement of new machines, hiring of new staff, redesign of queue system, etc.) through pilot scale implementation was impractical because it might incur substantial expenditure or be operationally disruptive. With this in mind, simulation modeling was used to test these strategies via performance of “what if” analyses. Using the output generated by the simulation model, the team was able to identify a cost-free cycle time reduction strategy, which subsequently led to a reduction of patient cycle time and achievement of a management-defined performance target. As healthcare professionals work continually to improve healthcare operational efficiency in response to rising healthcare costs and patient expectation, simulation modeling offers an effective scientific framework that can complement established process improvement framework like PDSA to realize healthcare process enhancement.

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