Simulation Outside the Real World

We use virtual simulation to evaluate alternative configurations of equipment and space by modeling individual room or entire unit layouts. This enables collaboration among researchers, medical personnel, architects and others, allowing everyone to see issues concerning room level and unit level details in the early design stages.

Applications for virtual reality include interaction and placement of objects in the virtual environment, navigation through virtual settings that are larger than a few rooms, and visualization and training for specific processes in a space. We develop these applications for desktop computers, tablets and mobile phones, head mounted displays and multimonitor CAVE systems.

Our computer lab is equipped with several computer workstations. Three of our computers are high performance server-class machines for use in intensive simulation tasks. Each workstation is set up with a suite of design and research software, which allows us to conduct advanced modeling and simulations based on current standards and principles coupled with state of the art visualization.

Live Simulation Represents the Real World

The full-scale rapid prototyping kit in the SimTigrate Design Lab allows rooms to be built and reconfigured in a few minutes. The addition of furniture and equipment provides a dimensionally accurate physical representation and a better understanding of the impact of the physical environment on design decisions.

By simulating specific parts of the care delivery process in the prototype room with real people, the effects on face-to-face communication and human interaction emerge. With support for power and network connectivity, electronic devices and systems can be included in the simulation as well. Live simulation allows a wide range of stakeholders to participate meaningfully in the decision-making process together.

Computer Simulation Models Inform Decisions

Healthcare planning processes frequently result in costly over-building and inflated capacity, even when based on systematic planning estimates. Making decisions about space allocation and needs is a high stakes process. Getting the number right is important, because healthcare facilities are costly to build, and subsequent renovations to correct for miscalculations add unnecessary burden to organizations.

For the Emory University Healthcare Surgical Expansion, our team tested several scenarios in an existing healthcare unit in order to provide recommendations on bed requirements. By developing a model based on detailed surgical records, we were able to project a more precise number of perioperative bed positions needed for a renovation project. Our team also developed a mathematical representation of the hospital’s surgical process that allowed us to simulate a year of patient surgeries under a variety of different design and care process scenarios.

We translated these mathematical models into a descriptive report built on current processes and procedure times, projected maximum volumes and the future case mix. This enabled the stakeholders to consider several scenarios, and make informed decisions about their perioperative bed space needs in a new surgical suite with greater certainty that the number of beds would meet their future demands.