Imagine you've been diagnosed with COVID-19 and need care, but are concerned that the closest hospital may not have a bed available. While investigating where you can be admitted and treated, you lose precious time. Situations like this can now be prevented, thanks to a system designed by a Johns Hopkins engineer.
Kimia Ghobadi, an assistant professor in the Department of Civil and Systems Engineering and a member of the Malone Center for Engineering in Healthcare at the Johns Hopkins Whiting School of Engineering, and her students have developed an interactive website that shows hospital loads across the U.S. and the best way to transfer COVID-19 patients between medical centers.
Originally developed last fall for the Johns Hopkins Health System, the COVID-19 Capacity Management Dashboard uses optimization models and data from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to predict hospitals' ICU and normal (acute) bed loads for the next three weeks. The website was made public in January to help everyone from state decision-makers to managers for large health care systems to members of the general public make informed decisions about care.
"The demand for COVID-19 resources is uneven. Our website is designed to give information to various audiences and provide users with the knowledge needed to better align needs with the available capacity," Ghobadi said. "This will increase access to treatment while also giving users the power to make optimal decisions based on the resource distribution in their area."
The dashboard allows users to see which hospitals are over capacity, when and how many additional beds are needed at each location, and the optimal transfer strategy between hospitals.
While this dashboard is made specifically to address the hospital capacity issues brought about by COVID-19, Ghobadi believes the model is applicable to other situations.
"Seasonal flu is still a big concern," she said. "The models used can easily be modified to showcase hospital capacities for respiratory infectious diseases. And if another pandemic occurs, we're ready to do our part and inform people of how to allocate resources and where to go to receive the most immediate care."