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PenCHORD strengthens links to overseas research partners

Posted on June 28th 2017

Following a successful bid in 2016, PenCHORD  (PenCLAHRC’s operational research group), has been awarded additional funding to strengthen their existing links with German research partners.

PenCHORD have been awarded £14,000 to strengthen international collaboration in the field of healthcare operational research. This year’s funding has enabled the team to continue their engagement with overseas research, particularly in Germany.

Earlier this year, Dr Sebastian Rachuba attended the annual meeting of the special interest group Health Care Management at the University of Hohenheim, Stuttgart. Over two days, more than 30 researchers and practitioners from across Germany met to discuss ways to improve collaboration between the participants.

Caption: Participants of the special interest group’s workshop at University of Hohenheim

Dr Rachuba commented:

“Having worked in academic institutions in both Germany and the UK, I was always keen to bring both perspectives together and explore commonalities and differences. This funding has made it finally possible to share expertise around decision support in health care with colleagues in the UK and Germany. We are very much looking forward to further advancing these links."

In March 2017, members of PenCHORD visited the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT, Germany) for an intense two-day workshop exploring mutual research interests. PenCHORD team members Professor Martin Pitt, Dr Emma Villeneuve, Dr Sean Manzi, and Dr Sebastian Rachuba discussed future avenues for joint project work with Professor Stefan Nickel, Dr Melanie Reuter-Oppermann, and Anne Zander. Together with KIT’s Health Care Lab, they identified joint interests in supporting highly complex decision-making processes.​

Caption: Members of PenCHORD with Professor Stefan Nickel (3rd from left), Anne Zander (2nd from left) Dr Melanie Reuter-Oppermann (centre)

Caption: Members of PenCHORD with Professor Stefan Nickel (3rd from left), Anne Zander (2nd from left) Dr Melanie Reuter-Oppermann (centre)

The focus of the initiatives is on best practice for managing multiple criteria as well as multiple parties’ interests. A Call for Papers for a special journal issue in Operations Research for Health Care has been issued and aims to collate recent advances in methods and models which support decisions in the light of multiple and competing criteria or interests. Joint papers are targeted at international conferences such as the European Conference on Information Systems (ECIS 2018) which will take place in Portsmouth next year.

In June 2017, Professor Jens O. Brunner of Augsburg University, Germany visited PenCHORD to present his work around physician scheduling in hospitals: a further opportunity to share research expertise and develop new project ideas.

Professor Brunner has developed a tool which generates staff schedules (especially for physicians) at large teaching hospitals in Germany, taking into account legal requirements and staff preferences. The PenCHORD team and Professor Brunner shared recent project work and identified areas of common interest, including the challenges of methodological advances and the usefulness of operational research models and methods applied to health services.

Caption: Professor Jens Brunner presenting his work around physician scheduling

Caption: Professor Jens Brunner presenting his work around physician scheduling 

He enthused:

“I enjoyed a short but very successful stay at the University of Exeter with lots of fruitful discussions around recent project work. In particular, I was impressed by the profound knowledge of the PenCHORD group around decision support in health care. I wish our cooperation an academically successful, prosperous, and splendid future.”

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