Computer simulation is a highly advantageous method for understanding and improving health care operations with a wide variety of possible applications. Most computer simulation studies in emergency medicine have sought to improve allocation of resources to meet demand or to assess the impact of hospital and other system policies on emergency department (ED) throughput. These models have enabled essential discoveries that can be used to improve the general structure and functioning of EDs. Theoretically, computer simulation could also be used to examine the impact of adding or modifying specific provider tasks. Doing so involves a number of unique considerations, particularly in the complex environment of acute care settings. In this paper, we describe conceptual advances and lessons learned during the design, parameterization, and validation of a computer simulation model constructed to evaluate changes in ED provider activity. We illustrate these concepts using examples from a study focused on the operational effects of HIV screening implementation in the ED. Presentation of our experience should emphasize the potential for application of computer simulation to study changes in health care provider activity and facilitate the progress of future investigators in this field.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Emergency Medicine