To Solve Hospital Overcrowding, Think Like a Mathematician

Clayton Dalton in UnDark:

The emergency department where I see patients can get pretty crowded. Sometimes, when we run out of rooms, we examine patients in the hallways. It’s harder to deliver comprehensive medical care that way, but the patients need to be treated somewhere.

It seems like the answer to overcrowding in the emergency department should be simple: Build more beds. And many hospitals are. Years ago, when one facility was considering a $10 million expansion of its emergency department, Eugene Litvak, president of the non-profit Institute for Healthcare Optimization, shook his head. “How about you give me $5 million and you do nothing and both of us will benefit,” he recalled telling the hospital’s president.

It was more than an idle challenge, coming from Litvak. He’s done it before.

Litvak specializes in operations management, a branch of applied mathematics that uses statistical techniques to efficiently match resources with variable demand. In the late 1990s, he began looking for ways to apply his professional training to American health care.

More here.