One of Linchpin’s previous assignment was with a major metropolitan hospital which was planning a stand-alone short stay day procedural centre.
The centre would incorporate the latest technology and provide rapid turnaround for minor surgical procedures. The modelling assignment was to test the architectural plans against the patient flows.
The fundamental premise or mental model was that the latest developments in medical technology had moved ahead of the design of the older hospital and a new facility would provide much more efficient and cost-effective service.
The modelling indicated that this was certainly the case but one thing that the technology and the mental models had not taken account was that post-anaesthetic patient recovery times would not improve, humans being humans. The modelling indicated that significant logjams would develop on day one of the operation of new facility and that these would be a constant constraint on the operation, effectively nullifying the new technology.
Because the design had effectively been tested in a simulation model, it was possible to redesign the facility with sufficient post-anaesthetic care units to cope with the new technology.
The design of complex systems such as this hospital requires multidisciplinary teams, in this case highly skilled medical technicians, hospital administrators and architects. The initial design team do not contain a systems designer experienced in process flows, the impact of delays and feedback systems.
While this is a highly specialised skill, the fundamental concepts are easy to grasp allowing the modeller to work with managers to design organisations and processes that will function efficiently and effectively.