Hospital Capacity Planning

Setting the Stage

In 2019, the suburban area surrounding a large healthcare system was experiencing significant population growth. Hospital leaders wanted to ensure that new patients would receive timely care. They needed to know when and where the hospital would be constrained, enabling space and staffing planning.

The Approach

To prepare operations for this growth, we conducted a capacity assessment for a 170-bed acute care community hospital, and a similar assessment for a 44-bed specialty hospital. This is a subset of the full results package, and the results have been blinded to maintain confidentiality.

An iterative cycle was used as the leadership team went through the strategic planning process.

Hospital Capacity Planning 1

Growth assumptions were developed in partnership with key leadership and by leveraging the healthcare system’s historical data. Room requirements are shown below. In addition to an hourly capacity assessment, we provided an overall average utilization assessment to identify constrained months, days of the week, and hours of the day. These details informed leaders on how they could change their operation to reduce space requirements.

Hospital Capacity Planning 2

The Benefits

Patients do not want to wait to receive care, and clinicians want the space and staffing to be able to provide care. Providing detailed information allowed leaders to plan operational changes to meet these patient and provider needs. Several units were already space-constrained and would be strained even further with increased growth. As part of our analysis, we explored solutions that converted underutilized space and offices to clinical areas, changed the mix of pediatric and adult rooms, and extended operating hours. These solutions are currently in progress. As growth began to materialize, staffing changes were made unit by unit.