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Process Improvement in Hospitals: A Case Study in a Radiology Department

Nickel, Stefan PhD; Schmidt, Ursula-Anna

doi: 10.1097/QMH.0b013e3181bee127

To improve processes in hospitals, a case study was conducted at a German university hospital, which consists of more than 30 clinics and institutes on a large campus. The case study focused on the analysis of the patient flow and of machine utilization in the radiology department. Radiological devices are spread over the campus and located in different buildings. Patients with restricted mobility have to be transported by a vehicle transportation service across the campus. However, a vehicle transport can considerably influence the patients' punctual arrival to their appointments. The observations of the case study showed that the current organization of the radiology department results in high patient waiting times and machine idle times. The university hospital is planning to conduct significant organizational changes, especially with regard to the organization of the radiology department. This case study was conducted to support the planning processes of the clinic and to reveal and estimate optimization potential. To analyze the patient flow, a discrete event multicriteria simulation model was designed and implemented. By modeling different scenarios, it was possible to easily compare and assess distinct alternatives. This led to improved machine utilization and reduced waiting times.

Institute of Operations Research, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), Karlsruhe, Germany and Fraunhofer Institute for Industrial Mathematics, Kaiserslautern, Germany (Dr Nickel); and Chair of Operations Research and Logistics, Saarland University, Saarbrücken, Germany (Ms Schmidt).

Corresponding Author: Stefan Nickel, Saarland University, PO Box 15 11 50, Bldg A5 3, D-66041 Saarbrücken, Germany (

©2009Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.