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FACILITY DESIGN R Hayward, D Brocklehurst, S Sharma – Buro Happold Consulting Engineers

Optimising design for people flow

This article discusses a methodology to simulate, analyse and optimise hospital designs using agent-based simulation techniques. These powerful simulation techniques are increasingly being used in the design of airports, transport hubs, sport stadia, and schools but rarely for the healthcare sector.

Hospitals are complex dynamic systems, with management, buildings, facilities and processes that can be difficult to understand from a quantified and holistic viewpoint. They are also systems that often experience under-resourcing, long waiting, queuing, bed/equipment/room shortages, and process constraints. The use of efficient dynamic simulation

models helps assess the performance and bottlenecks of hospital designs, taking into account the related variables. The overall goal of simulation is to help achieve buildings that are as sustainable and efficient as possible while maximising patient comfort. A high level methodology has been

developed for simulating and optimising hospital designs and processes. It involves the consideration of the following elements: • Hospital location and typology (e.g. Emergency, Outpatients or Inpatients).

• Patient and visitor needs, goals and experience.

• Processes, pathways and journeys. • Staffing and staff experience. • Hospital resources. • Building design (overall layout as well as lifts and stairs).

• Utilisation and efficiency (including cost and energy consumption).

Each of the elements is accounted for within a holistic agent-based model, designed to aid understanding of the hospital system. Case studies are presented, clearly demonstrating the value of agent-based simulation techniques within the building industry. The first case-study is used to inform the

future operation of an existing Accident & Emergency (A&E) department. The second case study informed and optimised the design for a proposed


Orthopaedics Hospital. The third case study is about improvement

to the utilisation of space across outpatient departments in an existing hospital, thereby reducing the need for new build. There is a strong need for a reliable and

validated modelling method for analysing the performance of hospitals from patient and staff experience perspectives, evidenced by several problems in new and existing hospitals. A significant amount of literature exists on

the modelling and simulation of hospital movements (Abdur Rais, 2010; Pidd, 2010). Studies typically focus on optimising efficiency indicators such as length of stay, waiting times, and throughput by changing processes or altering the allocation of human and technical resources (S C Brailsford, 2009). However, there is very little work to date that attempts to understand the relationship between building design and hospital operational efficiency/effectiveness,

Rebecca Hayward Rebecca Hayward is a People Flow Consultant in Buro Happold’s Smart Space team, focusing on optimising the interactions between people, places and processes. She leads Smart Healthcare a specialist service that helps healthcare Trusts, architects, and planners to model the interaction of people with hospital layouts and processes, with a view to optimising the design and operations.

She gained a PhD in emergent systems in biology at the University of Bath. She has led and executed crowd flow consultancy projects ranging from optimising space use and experience in healthcare buildings, detailed design in educational buildings and operational management at conferences and large scale events. Her experience in the healthcare sector includes developing a methodology to simulate, analyse and optimise hospital designs using agent based simulation techniques. She is also involved in academic research activities and projects ranging from modelling disease spread in a healthcare environment to understanding the micro-level behaviours and movements of people during evacuation scenarios.

Capture behaviour Map performance Predict behaviour Improve performance Monitor performance

Figure 1: Outline of the Smart Healthcare approach.

David Brocklehurst David Brocklehurst is a Crowd Flow Consultant with over 15 years of consultancy experience working as a senior crowd flow consultant for Buro Happold, with a focus on modelling for both normal and emergency conditions.

David undertook doctoral research into circulation modelling and crowd modelling at Loughborough University, gaining an Engineering Doctorate and winning the ICE Safety in Construction Medal for his research. The knowledge he gained during the research, together with the application on such high profile projects as Cardiff City Masterplan, Ascot & York Racecourses, Kings Waterfront Liverpool, Prestwick Airport, and the Millennium Dome, gave him in-depth knowledge in the way people circulate around the built environment.

Dr Shrikant B. Sharma Shrikant B. Sharma leads Smart Space, a Buro Happold specialist service that helps architects, planners, regulators, operators and security advisors to model the interaction of people with the spatial layouts and processes, with a view to optimising the design and operations of buildings and urban spaces.

He is a consultant on people movement and has led and executed several major crowd flow consultancy projects, in sectors ranging from masterplanning to detailed design of hospitals, airports and major transport hubs.


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