Northeastern University Hospital Surge Capacity Planning Model: Bed, Ventilator, and PPE 1-30 Day Demand
Note: AHRQ has not evaluated or validated this resource. In the overview, the developer describes the testing that has been conducted to date.
The COVID pandemic is placing enormous surge demand and strain on health system capacity, staff, personal protective equipment (PPE), and other supplies, individually and regionally. Many hospitals and policymakers need real-time information about these evolving demands to make critical operational decisions. Northeastern University developed the Hospital Surge Capacity Planning Model to help health systems estimate and visualize 1- to 30-day ahead hospital-specific demand for medical and ICU beds, ventilators, PPE, medications, and available staff on a rolling basis.
The tool is freely available to any health system worldwide and can be downloaded from the COVID models website at https://www.hsye.org/covid-19-capacity-mgmt. The developers rapidly created this model by adapting and integrating 10 years of prior research supported by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, the National Science Foundation, and the National Institutes of Health. The overall objective is to provide early signaling of capacity, supplies, and staffing concerns at hospital and system levels.
This model can complement more macro-level epidemic models informing public health policies, most using conventional susceptible-recovered concepts. The approach blends theoretic and data-driven modeling methods to produce detailed actionable decision support, integrating factors such as current patient census by type and local new COVID case predictions.
The model can be used in a number of ways to help hospitals prepare for and manage capacity concerns from COVID-like epidemics, including providing general information, informing operational decisions, and expediting significant concerns. The model can help answer questions such as:
- How many patients will a hospital have in the ICU each day, and how many are going to be ventilated?
- When should a hospital convert routine space to ICU or isolated beds?
- Given inherent variability (e.g., random lengths-of-stay), what is the probabilistic range of results a hospital might expect over the next week and month?
- When should a hospital enlist retired caregivers, primary care providers, and others in staffing routine healthcare acute care setting delivery needs?
The model is implemented in Excel for ease of use and sharing. The file consists of five worksheet tabs— one for bed demand, PPE consumption, staff availability, input instructions, and calculation FAQs. Results are displayed graphically as run charts over time and tabularly, formatted for printing to facilitate bed huddles, surge management meetings, and other clinical team communications.