The Health Service Modelling Associates (HSMA) programme is a pilot scheme run by PenCLAHRC. It aims to bring academics from Exeter and Plymouth universities together with health organisations to carry out operational research to a high standard, with the best tools and knowledge available and at a pace the NHS needs to put such research rapidly into practice.
Recognising that the more informed their decisions are, the better the outcomes for patients will be, the Northern Devon Healthcare NHS Trust is one of the organisations supporting the scheme. They have released Nic Harrison, Senior Business Analyst in the Contracting and Business Intelligence team, for one day a week for a year, to work on a specific trust priority project.
Nic, who is based at the Trust's Exeter headquarters, was selected as one of only six HSMAs across Devon, Somerset and Cornwall following a rigorous application process.
Andy Burgess, Deputy Director of Operations, is Nic’s workplace supervisor and will ensure he receives the best support within the Trust to advance the project.
Andy and Nic have worked with the executive team to choose the implementation and refinement of the North Devon District Hospital (NDDH) Emergency Assessment Unit (EAU) as the Trust’s project.
The EAU will include a combination of beds, chairs and trolleys and aims to improve the pathway for patients referred to A&E by GPs. It will also include frailty and ambulatory care assessment, rapid access diagnostics and advice for primary care. The service will be supported by increased Pathfinder and health and social care activity within NDDH.
The modelling project is looking at how patients are likely to move through the hospital, including resulting performance against key targets, and changes in A&E and inpatient activity levels. This will cover a variety of options for how the EAU is set up, to inform a final decision on the unit’s configuration.
Nic is working closely with the five other HSMAs to share ideas and to collaborate for greater benefit, in line with the wider Success Regime principles of breaking down operational boundaries.
“I am keen to support the personal development of individuals within the Trust and very keen to develop modelling capacity and expertise in the organisation. I will be looking at ways the learning gained from this project can be shared more widely with other members of staff to develop a more scientific approach to future service development.”
Developed by PenCHORD, the operational research team within PenCLAHRC, the HSMA programme is looking to increase the impact of research by reaching out directly into NHS organisations, as well as providing the opportunity to promote the use of operational research more widely.
Dr Daniel Chalk, of PenCHORD, said:
“We have developed the HSMA programme in order to improve the integration and awareness of the potential of simulation and modelling techniques within the health service. We’re very excited by this new initiative and believe it will lead to significant improvements to the delivery of health services in the South West. We are also grateful to Simul8 Corporation for providing our HSMAs with the tools to develop exciting simulation models for their organisations.”