Georgia Tech to Support Development of Next Generation Military Health Clinics

News Release from the U.S. Army and the Defense Health Agency – November 2, 2015

The U.S. Army and the Defense Health Agency have called on a collaboration of researchers from the Georgia Institute of Technology and Altus Architectural Studios to apply advanced simulation and analysis to clinic processes and physical settings. The work will support planning for the next generation of clinics for the Army, Air Force and Navy. The project will be led by the SimTigrate Design Lab in the Georgia Tech College of Architecture, with strong involvement from faculty members in the Georgia Tech Schools of Industrial and Systems Engineering and Computer Science.

The Army uses a model of care called the patient-centered medical home (PCMH) in which patients in Army primary care clinics receive an integrated set of services such as medical care, behavioral health assistance, nutritional counseling and pharmacy services. The DoD is using PCMH care to improve the experience and quality of care, reduce cost and maintain readiness. The PCMH model is also being broadly adopted by private sector providers. Jennifer DuBose, associate director of the SimTigrate Design Lab, has been researching the design of PCMH clinics and will bring her knowledge of best practices from other clinics to the project.

As of 2013, the MHS operated 361 ambulatory care clinics worldwide. With so many clinics, the MHS has been challenged to maintain consistency in the quality of the care it provides. Through this project, the research team will analyze clinics from the Army, Navy and Air Force and build simulation models to optimize the clinic settings and care process. The simulation models will be built in collaboration with the Georgia Tech School of Industrial and System Engineering, under the direction of professors Paul Griffin and Nicoletta Serban.

This project will also yield valuable research tools that will contribute to the science of health care delivery.  Senior Research Scientist Scott Robertson of the Interactive Media Technology Center at Georgia Tech will develop improved data collection and visualization tools that help the team document the care process during site visits.

“While processes such as systematic field study, simulation and rapid prototyping have led to significant improvements in fields such as aviation, they are less common in healthcare and in architecture,” said Craig Ziming, director the SimTigrate Design Lab. “In our previous work we have found that simulation has allowed organizations to reduce space requirements, and shorten wait times and improve the experience of visits for patients, and return time to staff. Working with a world-class organization such as the Military Health System that provides services to 9.6 million patients allows the development and testing of solutions at a scale that wasn’t previously possible. We look forward to helping improve care for people who have given so much to this country.”

The Department of Defense will provide $558,449 to Georgia Tech for the first year of the project. Collaborator Altus Architectural Studios, Inc. headquartered in Omaha, NE, specializes in healthcare architecture, planning, and interior design.