New computer program tells hospitals exactly when they will be overwhelmed by the coronavirus

Two computer programs that can predict if and when doctors and hospitals will be inundated with COVID-19 patients have been created at Stanford University.

The programs, designed in weeks by computer engineers, use demographic information to predict when a given county will see an increase in the number of infected people and when a given hospital will run out of beds and hospital supplies.

Engineering professor Peter Glynn said existing computer models were inadequate to deal with the COVID-19 crisis and Stanford’s programs have been made available to any hospital or health care official who wants them.

By analyzing data on the age, health and pre-existing medical conditions of a county’s population, the first program can predict infection rates for individual counties even without infection test results.

And the second program can tell hospitals when they might run out of space, supplies and staff.

Another feature of the programs, already in use at two Stanford hospitals, forecasts future needs for supplies such as face masks and gloves.

Three Stanford professors and a dozen graduate students, all working remotely, developed the programs via teleconference. The group that developed the programs, known as Systems Utilization for Stanford Medicine, also produced computer tools to help hospitals use operating rooms and surgical staff more efficiently.

The computer programs, Glynn said, “really gave an idea of ​​how quickly COVID-19 cases could impact a hospital. When you run the numbers in the model, you see how quickly things can change. »

Steve Rubenstein is a writer for the San Francisco Chronicle. Email: [email protected] Twitter: @SteveRubeSF

Gordon K. Morehouse