Emergency department (ED) overcrowding is acknowledged as an increasingly important issue worldwide. Hospital managers are increasingly paying attention to ED crowding in order to provide higher quality medical services to patients. One of the crucial elements for a good management strategy is demand forecasting. Our study sought to construct an adequate model and to forecast monthly ED visits.
We retrospectively gathered monthly ED visits from January 2009 to December 2016 to carry out a time series autoregressive integrated moving average (ARIMA) analysis. Initial development of the model was based on past ED visits from 2009 to 2016. A best-fit model was further employed to forecast the monthly data of ED visits for the next year (2016). Finally, we evaluated the predicted accuracy of the identified model with the mean absolute percentage error (MAPE). The software packages SAS/ETS V.9.4 and Office Excel 2016 were used for all statistical analyses.
A series of statistical tests showed that six models, including ARIMA (0, 0, 1), ARIMA (1, 0, 0), ARIMA (1, 0, 1), ARIMA (2, 0, 1), ARIMA (3, 0, 1) and ARIMA (5, 0, 1), were candidate models. The model that gave the minimum Akaike information criterion and Schwartz Bayesian criterion and followed the assumptions of residual independence was selected as the adequate model. Finally, a suitable ARIMA (0, 0, 1) structure, yielding a MAPE of 8.91%, was identified and obtained as Visitt=7111.161+(at+0.37462 at-1).
The ARIMA (0, 0, 1) model can be considered adequate for predicting future ED visits, and its forecast results can be used to aid decision-making processes.