UC research offers exciting potential for hospital managers

25 May 2011

Dr Kyoko Fukuda of the University of Canterbury is extending her PhD thesis and recently-published research to develop a new software package to assist hospital planners to deal with varying hospital presentation trends.

UC research offers exciting potential for hospital managers

Dr Kyoko Fukuda

Dr Kyoko Fukuda of the University of Canterbury is extending her PhD thesis and recently-published research to develop a new software package to assist hospital planners to deal with varying hospital presentation trends.

She hopes that the software will enable hospital management to efficiently allocate resources by providing an indication of the patient peak demand period in advance.

"This will be of assistance to hospital planners as they make decisions about staffing levels. It will also be useful for anyone who is interested in how dust and other particulates in the air behave and the subsequent impact on incidences of influenza, asthma and other respiratory illnesses.

"I see real applications for this software tool particularly for those hospitals located in areas that are prone to spikes in particulate pollution, such as Christchurch. Christchurch residents are dealing with the impact of colder air interacting with dust caused by the collapse and demolition of buildings and liquefaction this winter. The impact of such new phenomena is unknown to us, but it is certainly important for us to understand such associations."

In addition to working with the Emergency Department team at the Canterbury District Health Board (Professor Mike Ardagh) and Waikato Hospital (Dr Martyn Harvey), Dr Fukuda is also setting up collaborative relationships with hospitals in other parts of New Zealand and sees potential for the software to be used at hospitals around the world. Data from the Canterbury Health Lab will also provide crucial information to improve results.

Dr Fukuda's collaborative research paper, "Including viral infection data supports an association between particulate pollution and respiratory admissions", was published in the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health.

Her research partners included Dr Phil Hider from the University of Otago and Associate Professor Lance Jennings at Canterbury Health Lab, Dr Michael Epton from the Canterbury Respiratory Research Group at Christchurch Hospital and Associate Professor Simon Kingham from the University of Canterbury's Geohealth Laboratory.

"I am excited that our research may lead to the development of a powerful management tool such as this software."

Dr Fukuda is currently based at NZi3, the New Zealand ICT Innovation Institute based at the University of Canterbury.

The Ministry of Science and Innovation's Pre-Seed Accelerator Fund has invested in the project, and the Canterbury District Health Board has also provided funding support. Adrian Busch from University of Canterbury's Research & Innovation is assisting Dr Fukuda to develop her research into a system ready for practical use.

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