Managing Admission and Discharge Processes in Intensive Care Units

Health Care Management Science 24 (2021), pp. 666-685, doi: 10.1007/s10729-021-09560-6

46 Pages Posted: 11 Mar 2021 Last revised: 20 Apr 2022

See all articles by Jie Bai

Jie Bai

Technische Universität München (TUM) - Faculty of Economics and Business Administration

Jochen Gönsch

University of Duisburg-Essen - Mercator School of Management

Jens Brunner

University of Augsburg

Manfred Blobner

Technische Universität München (TUM) - Klinikum Rechts der Isar

Date Written: March 1, 2021

Abstract

The intensive care unit (ICU) is one of the most crucial and expensive resources in a health care system. While high fixed costs usually lead to tight capacities, shortages have severe consequences. Thus, various challenging issues exist: When should an ICU admit or reject arriving patients in general? Should ICUs always be able to admit critical patients or rather focus on high utilization? On an operational level, both admission control of arriving patients and demand-driven early discharge of currently residing patients are decision variables and should be considered simultaneously. This paper discusses the trade-off between medical and monetary goals when managing intensive care units by modeling the problem as a Markov decision process. Intuitive, myopic rule mimicking decision-making in practice is applied as a benchmark. In a numerical study based on real-world data, we demonstrate that the medical results deteriorate dramatically when focusing on monetary goals only, and vice versa. Using our model, we illustrate the trade-off along an efficiency frontier that accounts for all combinations of medical and monetary goals. Coming from a solution that optimizes monetary costs, a significant reduction of expected mortality can be achieved at little additional monetary cost.

Note:
Funding Information: None

Conflict of Interests: None

Ethical Approval: The used patient-related data is either anonymized data or aggregated data, not requiring any patient informed consent in accordance to the European General Data Protection Regulation (EU directive - 2016/679).

Keywords: Intensive care unit, admission and discharge decisions, Markov decision process, dynamic programming, operations research

Suggested Citation

Bai, Jie and Gönsch, Jochen and Brunner, Jens and Blobner, Manfred, Managing Admission and Discharge Processes in Intensive Care Units (March 1, 2021). Health Care Management Science 24 (2021), pp. 666-685, doi: 10.1007/s10729-021-09560-6, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3800698

Jie Bai

Technische Universität München (TUM) - Faculty of Economics and Business Administration ( email )

Arcisstr. 21
Munich, D-80290
Germany

Jochen Gönsch

University of Duisburg-Essen - Mercator School of Management ( email )

Lotharstraße 65
Duisburg, Nordrhein-Westfalen 47057
Germany
+49 203 379 - 2777 (Phone)
+49 203 379 - 1760 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://udue.de/goensch

Jens Brunner (Contact Author)

University of Augsburg ( email )

Universitätsstr. 2
Augsburg, 86159
Germany

Manfred Blobner

Technische Universität München (TUM) - Klinikum Rechts der Isar ( email )

Ismaninger Straße 22
München, 81675
Germany

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