Digital Twins Virtualizing Hospitals

By Ben Watts

Wed, 17 Oct 2018

While digital twins of the human body primarily remain a futuristic development, virtual hospital planning and management are already a reality. These Twin models assist in the planning of beds, staff schedules, and operating rooms, to optimize both patient care and costs. Issues such as bed shortages, operating room queues, and the spread of germs can be provided with a solution from implementing a digital twin of a hospital model.

The digital twin will help to virtualize the system of a hospital to produce a safe environment and assess potential changes in its performance. This will allow managers to try out all solutions before deciding on the best course of action. A twin will provide tests for viewing potential changes in operational strategy, staffing, and care models, to accurately determine what actions to take. Digital twins allow collaboration of data and scenario-based decision making to be reached on a broader scale.

Simulation techniques have successfully been around for 30 years in healthcare, modeling departments such as radiology. Creating a hospital model which exceeds 400 beds, however, has proven too difficult a task in most cases. Digital twins are actively being used in redesigning system dynamics in large existing hospitals, as well as assisting in the creation of new hospitals. System dynamics consist of the virtual planning of bed algorithm, equipment, care model, staffing and floorplan.

Through the use of digital twins, leaders will have the chance to get their ideas heard and analyzed. In many cases it allows flawed ideas to be demonstrated so they can be learned from and embraced for clarifying the eventual course of strategy. They assist leaders in designing and executing models of care which are revolutionary for patients, families, and carers.

If a hospital was predominantly having scheduled surgeries over emergency surgeries in their operating rooms, using a digital twin could provide beneficial feedback. By use of a digital twin, the hospital will be able to process data to discover any particular needs or inefficiencies. As a result, new operating rooms or procedures could be discovered to allow better space allocation in the hospital, which will improve efficiency and patient care.

A digital twin also plays a big part in optimizing day-to-day performance. Continued capture of vital metrics enables products or processes to be monitored and optimized in real time. Digital twins of medical facilities, for example, could attempt to improve patient experience and solutions to congestion, by identifying the busiest areas and times of day in the individual hospital.

Digital twins can be a revelation for hospital operations and patient experience. Providing a connected system of digital twins to represent a hospital model and its machinery will ensure the creation of a secure environment focusing on patient care.

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Ben Watts

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