Resource Planning and Network Engineering for Better Epidemic Preparedness of ICU Networks in Metropolitan Cities

Project: Research

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Epidemics such as COVID-19 can place great strain on healthcare systems for extended periods of time, especially in intensive care units (ICUs) where high operating costs means resources can be scarce even during normal times. In this project, we will develop new solutions for resource planning and network engineering of ICU networks in metropolitan cities such as Hong Kong. This will allow city governments to proactively prepare for infectious outbreaks, e.g. future waves of COVID-19, seasonal outbreaks such as influenza, and new infectious diseases, thus minimising undesirable capacitylinked patient rejection and resulting mortality. To improve its services, the Hong Kong Hospital Authority (HKHA) promotes the “development of cluster/network-based services or structures” in its Strategic Plan 2017–2022 to “support the management of caseloads between hospitals through redistribution of cases”. In this project, we will develop models for a city-wide ICU network to optimise efficiency and minimise the patient rejection or deferral rate, especially during epidemics. The ICU network will include a centralized management policy for the admission of infectious patients and policies for the admission of regular patients, including the deferral of elective patient procedures and the referral of emergency patients between different ICUs depending on the network state. Our proposed policies will help improve ICU network performance in metropolitan cities such as Hong Kong, particularly during epidemics, by redistributing patients both geographically (between ICUs) and timewise (by deferring elective patients). Additionally, this project will study optimisation methods for the allocation of additional ICU beds whenever resources become available. These optimisation methods will allow ICU administrators to decide how many additional ICU beds to procure and where to add them to maximize the improvement in ICU network performance.This work is motivated by the PI's practical experience and recent research achievements in teletraffic modelling and the clinical needs of the Co-Is' professional institutions. The Co-ordinating Committee of Intensive Care of HKHA fully supports this project and will collaborate with our research team at CityU (see the attached support letter). The PI's role will be to versee the project and provide the mathematical methods underlying the study, whereas the Co-Is' role will be to oversee the collection of ICU patient data, provide opinions on modelling assumptions, and to review the potential applications of the research outcomes. The collected patient data will be used to test our ICU network policies and optimisation solutions on a real ICU network. 


Project number9043119
Grant typeGRF
Effective start/end date1/01/22 → …