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Operational research techniques such as simulation modelling are commonplace in many public and private sector services and industries from aviation to manufacturing and logistics.1 The benefits of such techniques are well known but the healthcare sector in the UK has been slower to use simulation and modelling as part of their routine practices to inform operational changes.2 A major barrier to healthcare organisations conducting such work has been the awareness of and capacity to use simulation and modelling approaches.
This report outlines the Health Service Modelling Associates (HSMA) programme-a novel capacity building initiative being undertaken in the South West of England. This is a mentoring programme where experienced healthcare operational researchers mentor health service employees to each undertake a modelling project over 12 months. The provision of training, mentoring and regular group support for somebody already embedded in the healthcare organisation is expected to improve the awareness and use of the simulation modelling approach within the organisation.
Outline of the programme
The first iteration of the HSMA programme began in April 2016 and will run until March 2017. The six heath service employees enrolled in the programme are released from their usual role for 1 day per week to undertake advanced discrete event simulation modelling projects to address a priority problem for their organisation. They are using software provided by Simul8 Corporation (https://www.simul8.com/) owing to its inherent ease of use and functionality for use in modelling healthcare systems. Throughout the programme, participants are guided through the modelling process from structuring …
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