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UG researchers help improve coordination around ICU bed utilization

24 August 2020
Taco van der Vaart

The recent corona pandemic has shown us that we can quickly reach the maximum ICU bed capacity and that the supply of medical equipment can be largely disrupted. Faculty of Economics and Business researchers Prof. Taco van der Vaart, Dr Paul Buijs and Dr Gerdien Regts will look into the role that national and regional coordination can have to manage such scarcity. The Dutch organization for Healthcare research and innovation (ZonMw) has made 150K available for a two-year research project.

Van der Vaart: ‘We will look at the lessons we can learn from the first wave of the corona pandemic. How did the national and regional coordination efforts function? Is it wise to spread the COVID-19 patients across the Netherlands more evenly to avoid either overcrowding one hospital versus under-utilization of another hospital, and if so, how to structure the coordination? At the moment there is a large cry for more ICU beds - structurally, but with a flexible layer - but is this really necessary and if so, how many beds would be sufficient?’

How to distribute masks, gowns and gloves?

Buijs: ‘We also focus on personal protective equipment, where we see similar issues. How to distribute masks, gowns, gloves and other protective equipment across different types of healthcare organizations when the nation is in short supplies? Is it necessary to keep large stock of these items? And, do we store those items nationally or regionally? Or, is it possible to solve a sudden surge in demand by having a flexible local production ready?’

Evaluation of regional coordination structures

Van der Vaart: ‘Another part of the project is an evaluation of the existing regional coordination structures, i.e. the public healthcare regions, the safety regions, the ICU regions and the acute healthcare regions. Should we use these regional structures to spread both patients and resources? And, which of these structures fits the job in times of scarcity and when is scaling up to national coordination required?’

Interested to participate?

In this project, the researchers will interview key stakeholders of the national and regional coordination structures, but also will consider the perspective of doctors, nurses and managers of hospitals in the Netherlands. If hospitals would be interested to contribute to the project, please contact the researchers involved. The results of the project will be shared via Open Access.

Additional information

For more information, please contact: Prof.dr. Taco van der Vaart or Dr Paul Buijs

Last modified:26 August 2020 11.44 a.m.
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