Optimal Resource and Demand Redistribution for Healthcare Systems Under Stress from COVID-19

by   Felix Parker, et al.

When facing an extreme stressor, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, healthcare systems typically respond reactively by creating surge capacity at facilities that are at or approaching their baseline capacity. However, creating individual capacity at each facility is not necessarily the optimal approach, and redistributing demand and critical resources between facilities can reduce the total required capacity. Data shows that this additional load was unevenly distributed between hospitals during the COVID-19 pandemic, requiring some to create surge capacity while nearby hospitals had unused capacity. Not only is this inefficient, but it also could lead to a decreased quality of care at over-capacity hospitals. In this work, we study the problem of finding optimal demand and resource transfers to minimize the required surge capacity and resource shortage during a period of heightened demand. We develop and analyze a series of linear and mixed-integer programming models that solve variants of the demand and resource redistribution problem. We additionally consider demand uncertainty and use robust optimization to ensure solution feasibility. We also incorporate a range of operational constraints and costs that decision-makers may need to consider when implementing such a scheme. Our models are validated retrospectively using COVID-19 hospitalization data from New Jersey, Texas, and Miami, yielding at least an 85 to the observed outcome of each case. Results show that such solutions are operationally feasible and sufficiently robust against demand uncertainty. In summary, this work provides decision-makers in healthcare systems with a practical and flexible tool to reduce the surge capacity necessary to properly care for patients in cases when some facilities are over capacity.



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