Simulation in Healthcare

Using Simulation & Modeling in Healthcare – review of The Cumberland Initiative’s report

Claire Cordeaux  /   Jan 14, 2014

Lord Warner and Mike Farrar’s public statements about the importance of using simulation and modelling in healthcare at the launch of the Cumberland Initiative’s  report were extremely welcome. It has always been a mystery to me why healthcare decision-makers would NOT use simulation to help understand the impact of key decisions that affect patient care and make sure that funding is being spent as well as it could be. Managing healthcare is a complex business. It has to take into account:

  • the different needs of populations
  • the way that different patient groups access the health service
  • variations in demand and arrival times
  • different treatment pathway options to meet individual needs
  • efficient use of resources at the right time and in the right place
  • limited waiting times to get the best outcomes for patients

to say nothing of the funding flows supporting the work and how different organizations work across boundaries.

All of this needs to be supported by computer software built to handle this complexity thereby allowing decision-makers to:

  • concentrate on understanding how their system works now
  • work with stakeholders to contribute their  improvement ideas
  • testing how these would work in practice in a virtual environment before implementation.

This complexity was what led Dr Norman Pinder, Medical Director, Tony Ranzetta, former NHS CEO and myself to develop a simulation tool with the NHS Institute  and SIMUL8 Corporation for commissioners to enable non-simulation specialists to start to use this technology to help inform decision-making. There have been some great successes by commissioners who use this software (Scenario Generator).  A copy of the software is also FREE to each NHS England organisation, and a proportion of any purchase of support goes back to the NHS.

For simulations of clinical operations, in particular Emergency Departments, Acute Bed capacity, Operating Rooms, Patient Discharge – and the whole emergency care system from emergency arrivals through primary, community and hospital services to discharge – Simul8 gives many examples of how this has been used in healthcare, including a number of the projects mentioned at the Cumberland Initiative launch.

We are pleased to be a key contributor to the Cumberland Initiative which brings together academia, NHS and industry to create a critical mass of those expert or interested in simulation and modelling. We hope the Initiative will help to raise awareness of what simulation and modelling can do for health and social care and encourage more decision-makers to use this powerful technology to drive improvement

About the author

Claire Cordeaux

Claire Cordeaux

Claire is the global lead for health and social care at SIMUL8 Corporation. With a background in NHS and Social Services, she is passionate about promoting and supporting the use of simulation and modelling to drive improvement through evidence-based decision-making.