Applying Operation Research Techniques to Healthcare
Our research group applies operational research methodologies to address challenges faced by blood operators around the collection, production, inventory and distribution of biologics. The models developed by our group provide insight that allows decision-makers to operate Canada’s blood supply chain at the highest possible levels of efficiency, effectiveness, safety and responsiveness.
From an engineering standpoint, Canadian Blood Services looks like a large biologics manufacturer with a multi-echelon supply chain. This supply chain stretches over a wide geographic area and includes collection, production, inventory and distribution processes. Our research focuses on methods to optimize the management structures Canadian Blood Services uses to run its business.
In the Collection area, our group is developing models to optimize the staffing that is required at Canadian Blood Services’ blood collection sites to optimize the donor experience while maximizing efficiency.
Blake JT, Shimla S: Determining staffing requirements for blood donor clinics: the Canadian Blood Services experience. Transfusion 2014; 54:814–820.
Páez A, Esita J, Newbold KB, Heddle NM, Blake JT: Exploring resource allocation and alternate clinic accessibility landscapes for improved blood donor turnout. Appl Geogr 2013; 45:89–97.
Production and Distribution
In the Production and Distribution areas, our group has developed a generic modelling framework to support Canadian Blood Services in its consolidation plans. In recent years, Canadian Blood Services has consolidated its blood production and testing centres, a plan that necessitated changes in the transportation network between the production sites and hospitals. Our group evaluated consolidation plans for the Maritimes and the Prairies, to determine its effect on product availability in hospitals. We have recently expanded the framework to allow an entire national distribution network to be simulated.
In the Inventory area, our group has investigated challenges related to the management of blood product inventory such as the impact a change in red blood cell (RBC) shelf-life would have on RBC inventory and the factors involved in platelet inventory and ordering.
In other areas our models have been used to evaluate stem cell donor recruiting strategies that ensure that the best possible range of donors are available for Canadian patients in need of a transplant. Publications on this work are pending.