Systems Science Friday Noon Seminar Series

Modeler at Work: Notes from the Field



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Video: MP4; File size: 377.5 MB; Duration: 01:03:07




I have been working at OHSU since May, 2020 building simulation models for operational decision support. Simulation modeling is not all I do—I also do some standard statistical forecasting and report generation, but simulation modeling is the core of what I do. At this seminar, I will present three discrete event simulation models I’m actively developing so students can get a glimpse of what it’s like to take course work into action. The projects vary considerably in size from a single hospital department to all hospitals and residential facilities in the state, but share a common general goal to understand the potential impacts of operational changes on capacity and throughput—getting people the right care in the right environment at the right time with highly constrained resources.

Project 1: Can Interventional Radiology make different choices in day to day scheduling and prioritization to reduce wasteful downtime during the working hours and costly overtime, even with a complex mix of patients and highly variable procedure times?

Project 2: Under what conditions can Doernbecher Children’s Hospital continue to serve its primary patient population to the same standard if 8 typically unoccupied rooms are “loaned” to adult acute care at OHSU?

Project 3: The Oregon Behavioral Health Coordination Center will provide real time data on behavioral health capacity, requested transfers, and pending admissions among a few pilot hospitals and behavioral health facilities. How might coordination impact the overall behavioral health system in Oregon, given extreme capacity strain, complex procedures, and shifting state policies?

For each of these projects, I’ll primarily focus on the practitioner experience including: fundamental choices: modeling method, software, level of abstraction, and scope processes: data exploration, getting immersed in subject matter, communication (both successes and “learning opportunities”) things learned along the way

Biographical Information

I’m Alex Nielsen and I received a PhD in Systems Science in 2018. I’ve been working at OHSU as a simulation modeler, and all-around data wrangler since 2020. I teach Discrete Event Simulation on occasion, and have professional experience building Agent Based Simulation Models, System Dynamics Models, and Discrete Event Simulation Models primarily in the public health, behavioral health, and hospital operations areas. I run, knit, spin, and live with a bunch of farm animals up in SW Washington.


Simulation Modeling, Management -- Simulation methods


Systems Science

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© 2023 Alex Nielsen

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Modeler at Work: Notes from the Field