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Delta Coverage: The Analytics Journey to Implement a Novel Nurse Deployment Solution

April 21, 2023 @ 11:00 am - 12:00 pm

The Centre for Healthcare Engineering (CHE), Centre for Analytics and Artificial Intelligence Engineering (CARTE) and Operations Research (OR) Seminar Series welcome:

Jonathan E. Helm
Kelley School of Business, Indiana University

Date: Friday, April 21, 11:00 am – noon

Venue: GB220, Galbraith Building, 35 St George St, Toronto

Abstract: In January 2021, we embarked on a journey in partnership with Indiana University (IU) Health System, the largest health system in Indiana with 16 hospitals, to jointly develop a suite of advanced data and decision analytics to support a new internal travel nursing program at IU Health. This program was designed to leverage a flexible pool of resource nurses that can be moved between the 16 system hospitals. In contrast to traditional travel nursing programs designed for longer-term nursing shortages (e.g., 12 week contract during flu season), our program focuses on short term (days instead of weeks) deployments to respond to geographic and temporal fluctuations in hospital occupancies. The key challenge with a dynamic travel program is that nurses must be put “on-call” to travel 1-2 weeks in advance and notified of being “called-in” 24-24 hours in advance. This requires accurate forecasts of nurse demand across the 16 hospitals and the ability to make extremely complex decisions with trillions of possibility regarding which nurses to send to which hospitals on each day of a 30-day planning period. To support this program, we developed a machine learning-based occupancy forecasting model that accounts for different levels of patient acuity. Using distributional information from the forecast, we generate workload scenarios for the network that are fed into a two-stage stochastic program where the decision variables mimic the timing and type of decisions being made in practice. The decision support tool was implemented in October 2020 as a Microsoft Power BI application. We logged the performance of the recommendations from October 2021 to March of 2022 as a proof of value, with the tool running each day in real time. Analysis indicates system-wide improvements in all metrics: with reductions of 5% understaffing, 3% misallocation of resource nurses, and 1% overstaffing. The annualized savings estimated at over $400K. This talk focuses on the challenges of developing technical research within the real-world constraints of implementation and integration into hospital data warehouse and staffing systems as well as the challenges of an academia-industry collaboration for implementing technical work in a massive healthcare organization such as IU Health.


Bio: Jonathan Helm (Ph.D. University of Michigan, Industrial and Operations Engineering), is the Grainger Fellow Associate Professor of Operations and Decision Technologies at Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business and is the Co-Director for Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business Center for the Business of Life Science. He has held operations management and supply chain roles at GE Healthcare and Mayo Clinic and was a three-year National Science Foundation Fellow. Professor Helm’s vision is to drive a grassroots entrepreneurial research agenda to influence public policy and revolutionize the delivery of community services through a two-way pipeline where practice drives research and research changes practice. His research agenda takes a problem driven approach, working closely with industry collaborators to solve high impact business and societal problems with multiple implementations of decision support tools in healthcare practice. These include a census forecasting and surgical schedule control system that was implemented in a hospital in Singapore, readmission reduction analytics implemented as a web-based application at a hospital in Indiana, and, most recently, two implementations of predictive and prescriptive analytics applications at Indiana University Health, largest health system in Indiana serving over 1 million patients.


April 21, 2023
11:00 am - 12:00 pm


Galbraith Building
35 St George St,
Toronto, Ontario M5S 1A4 Canada
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