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New oily bits for Gooroo Planner

30/09/2011
by Rob Findlay

Today we’re going to peek under the bonnet of Gooroo Planner at one of the new things we’re working on right now. We want to achieve two things:

Firstly, we want to make Gooroo Planner more interactive. When you’re doing your planning, most of the dozens or hundreds of services in your model can just be crunched through according to rules that you control, and Gooroo Planner already does that very straightforwardly. But there are some services, like Orthopaedic elective inpatients for example, where you want to take a much closer look and tweak your assumptions more carefully. Ideally, you want to do this tweaking interactively, with instant results on the same screen, rather than having to navigate around and re-run the model every time you want to try something new. So more interactivity is the first thing we’re building in.

Secondly, we want to bridge the divide between strategic and operational planning, by building in week-by-week profiling of your future plans. This of course will be done interactively, and backed up by powerful global functions that let you try out different profiling strategies at the touch of a button.

Here’s a spreadsheet mockup of the week-by-week profiling screen. (It looks a bit clunky in the mock-up, but when it’s integrated into Planner it will be professionally designed and look as gorgeous as everything else.)

Week-by-week profiling mockup

Week-by-week profiling mockup

This screen shows a single service, such as Orthopaedic elective inpatients.

The top chart is the interactive one, and you’ll be able to drag the blue columns up and down to change the amount of activity planned for each week. All the other activity columns will automatically adjust to preserve the overall total, and all the charts will immediately respond to show the new position.

Also in the top chart, the shorter red columns show the minimum activity needed to keep up with clinical priorities; they are there to stop you inadvertently creating clinical risk by planning too little activity to keep up with all the urgent patients coming in: vital in high-urgency specialties like Urology, Plastic Surgery, and elective Medicine. Planner already safeguards urgent patients across your modelling period, and this does it week by week.

The second chart, with the blue line on it, shows the waiting time you can sustain with good scheduling practices. It is calculated on the same basis as your waiting time target, e.g. 90 per cent of admissions within X weeks. The blue line always starts and ends in the same place, because overall activity for the future period is not changing, but it goes up and down in the middle in response to your activity profile. In this example you can see how it goes up a bit in the summer when staff tend to take their holidays, before falling again towards the target with another smaller hiccup at Christmas. If you are maintaining a target that has already been achieved, this line will help you keep out of trouble in-year by planning enough activity in the early weeks to prevent predictable breaches in the holiday season and winter.

The remaining charts show how much capacity you need: beds, theatres and clinics, week by week. The grey line shows the total, across either the whole specialty or the whole health economy (your choice), so that you can make sure your profile doesn’t bust the bed limit for the site at any time.

So that’s a quick introduction to the new profiling service. I’d like to offer a very big thank-you to everybody who participated in our consultation on how this profiling should work. If you have any further comments or suggestions about how we’re building this, please get in touch; we want to get it just right for you.

In a future post, we’ll look at something else we’re working on: automatic constant-capacity profiling. It wasn’t easy, but we think we’ve broken new ground in finding a better way to model this…

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