Outstanding Innovation in Service Systems Engineering Award — First Place

“A scalable forecasting framework to predict COVID-19 hospital bed occupancy”

June 9, 2022

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Researchers from the University of Augsburg in Germany developed a forecasting framework to predict how many intensive care unit or regular hospital beds may be occupied by patients with confirmed or suspected COVID-19. The project won first place for the Outstanding Innovation in Service Systems Engineering Award, co-sponsored by the Institute of Industrial and Systems Engineering and the Penn State Harold and Inge Marcus Department of Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering.

Service systems engineering is the end-to-end design and management of every component needed to meet a specific need, according to Vittaldas Prabhu, Charles and Enid Schneider Faculty Chair in Service Systems Engineering and director of Penn State’s Service Systems Engineering initiative. He said that each of the winning projects clearly and effectively demonstrated how service systems engineering connects seemingly distinct and separate items to understand an entire system, allowing the researchers to then engineer the system in streamlined fashion to achieve the desired results.

The researchers developed a model, fed by current case numbers and other variables, to simulate how many patients with COVID-19 may need hospitalization at any given point to inform preparation needs and availability for elective procedures. The forecasts were delivered weekly to the Bavarian State Ministry of Health and Care to provide data to key decision makers in the individual ambulance districts from May 2020 to March 2021.

Team members included Jakob Heins, doctoral student, University of Augsburg; Steffen Heider, researcher, UA; Jan Schoenfelder, post-doctoral researcher, UA; Axel R. Heller, professor for anesthesiology, UA; and Jens O. Brunner, professor for health care operations management, University Hospital Augsburg.


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