Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, hospitals were hit hard with COVID-19 patients. One limitation on patients receiving quick and effective care after admission to hospital is the number of, and types of, physicians available to treat them. In a pandemic setting where resources are stretched it is necessary to rethink the way teams of physicians are comprised. Complex trade-offs become necessary when putting together teams of physicians during trying times, for example physicians whose expertise is not in critical care may be required to step in to ensure care is still available to patients. Additionally, the number of physicians required at any given time will be highly variable depending on forecasted infection rates and hospital admissions. Because of these necessary and dynamic changes to staffing needs, traditional staffing allocation systems and scheduling models will not work.
This project developed a new staff scheduling model that can be used across hospitals both now, and in the future to quickly adapt to healthcare system stressors such as a pandemic. The model has been shared with both Vancouver General and Royal Columbian Hospitals. Additional applications in the future may be to help plan for emergent surgeries without disruption and the ramping up of surgeries to compensate for cancellations during the pandemic. There has been increased awareness as to the usability of such a model and a hope that its implementation will create for a more robust and resilient healthcare system moving forward.