Saving Lives with Maths

Many rural areas in Germany face an alarming future in the health system: young doctors prefer urban areas for their offices, many doctors retire, pharmacies close and patients have to wait a long time for ambulances or emergency physicians. HealthFaCT aims to remediate these problems.

HealthFaCT – Optimizing Outpatient Medical Care in Rural Areas

Our healthcare system faces major challenges in outpatient medical care. Despite the decline in population and rising costs, medical care must still be guaranteed in rural areas. The aim of HealthFaCT (Facility Location, Covering and Transport) is to find the optimal distribution of the scarce health care resources in rural areas.

The collaborative project HealthFaCT is developing an innovative software-based optimization and decision-making system to improve outpatient medical care. The software quickly identifies and evaluates the best possible option for strategic, tactical, and operational decisions. In addition, the user can interactively visualize, explore, analyze, and verify the results. We are developing a web-based simulation platform that integrates the optimization methods designed by our project partners.

In the joint project we develop an innovative software-based optimization and decision-making system to improve outpatient medical care.
© Fraunhofer ITWM

In the joint project we develop an innovative software-based optimization and decision-making system to improve outpatient medical care. In the picture: Neele Leithäuser und Melanie Heidgen.

Research Alliance with Focus on Three Pillars

The project is funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) and focuses on three major pillars of outpatient care: Pharmacies, emergency doctors, and ambulance and rescue services.

Together with our project partners RWTH Aachen University, Technical University of Kaiserslautern, and University of Erlangen-Nuremberg, we are optimizing the following three areas based on future requirements forecasting:

  • Location structure and emergency service plan for pharmacies
  • Location structure and resource distribution for emergency doctors
  • Waiting times in the ambulance and rescue services
Mathematics saves lives in the health care system
© TU Kaiserslautern/Thomas Koziel

Manuel Streicher, Sven Krumke and Eva Schmidt from the TU Kaiserslautern compute the optimal distribution of the scarce health care resources.

Software-based implementation of mathematical algorithms

The project primarily studies location, coverage, and route planning problems from a mathematical perspective. The main challenges are real time optimization and robustness against uncertainties. Moreover, in a complex use case with divergent target functions, it is not possible to determine a single optimal solution by means of a purely algorithmic approach.

Therefore, we develop a data-driven tool that focuses on the decision maker. The software objectively shows the user different options and provides opportunities to interactively evaluate the solutions. Discussions with the application partners prove the need and the enormous potential of such a software-based optimization and decision-making system.

Background of the Project HealthFaCT

The Federal Ministry of Education and Research sponsors the joint project »HealthFaCT: Optimizing Outpatient Medical Care in Rural Areas« until November 2019 with up to 1.1 million Euros. The software is still in development, but at the end of the running time the researches want to offer a planning tool, that ideally optimizes the medical care in all the rural areas of Germany.

Logo BMBF

HealthFaCT is based on the following previous projects:

2012-2014

RescueAnalyzer

We developed a software tool for the optimal distribution of emergency physicians on behalf of the state of Rhineland-Palatinate. The tool provides dynamic analyses and a simulation based on population, road network and emergency operation data.

2017

Ambulance Station Nierstein

We adapted the methods of RescueAnalyzer for the analysis of ambulance stations. With our software we analyzed the emergency data in Rhenish Hesse and determined the best location for the new ambulance station.

Operations Research in Medicine

In the following projects we furthermore work in the field Operations Research in medicine:

Scheduling Medical Appointments

An efficient organization and a seamless flow of all activities are of great importance not only for the patients but also for the staff members.

Optimal Dispatching in Logistics of Hospitals

The aim of the project is to develop an optimization engine for Opti-Trans®, a software tool for dispatching transports requests in real time.