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A pioneering simulation project slashes waiting times in Devon

Posted on May 19th 2016

PenCLAHRC’s Operational Research team PenCHORD, have recently teamed up with the Devon Partnership Trust in order to reduce waiting times for mental health assessments.

The Trust wanted to change the way patients were booked into specialist assessment centres across Devon by introducing a new ‘Choose and Book’ system, allowing patients to select the preferred location of their appointment.

Before launching the new system blindly, the Trust teamed up with PenCHORD to help them validate and improve the proposed new system before it was officially rolled out. The PenCHORD team were able to create a detailed simulation of the referral and assessment pathways through using the latest techniques in computer modelling.

By creating this model, PenCHORD were able to assess the likely demand at each centre, predict the number of appointment slots needed and determine the best location for each site. Their analysis showed that a type of queue-sharing model, where patients can choose to attend one from several of their closest centres, could reduce waiting times significantly.

After the modelling simulation was complete, the Trust was able to confidently implement the new system to great effect. Not only did the average wait time for an appointment fall from 22 days to 14, but the distance a patient had to travel for an appointment was also reduced, thanks to the PenCHORD team being able to maximise the number of patients within a centre’s catchment area.  

If you would like to find out more about this PenCHORD project, you can visit our Exposure page for more information. You can also watch a short video about the project below:

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