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PenCHORD Projects

In order to achieve the best possible outcomes, PenCHORD projects involve close collaboration throughout their life cycle with NHS clinicians, managers, commissioners and patients. This approach has delivered successful outcomes across the region including; a three-fold increase in the number of stroke patients who are thrombolysed at Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital; a halving of patient wait times for mental health assessment in Devon, and; provided evidence to support an increase in the diabetic retinopathy screening interval to free up vital resources.

An outline of our project portfolio, including active and recently completed projects can be found on our current activity page.

Full details of projects we have been involved in can be found by visiting the PenCLAHRC project pages and searching for "PenCHORD".

Or for more detailed information on a selection of completed projects, view our case studies.

If you have any queries regarding these projects or would like further information, or if you have a research question that you feel our analysis and modelling could assist with, please contact us.



Case studies

View case studies of some of our projects below:

Optimising polypharmacy prescribing practice using Agent-Based Simulation modelling

An ageing population has led to an increasing number of people with multiple comorbidities prescribed multiple medications, known as polypharmacy. We designed and built a proof-of-concept simulation model for use as a tool to support polypharmacy prescribing for those with Type 2 Diabetes and Asthma. Read more.

High-sensitivity troponin for the diagnosis of acute myocardial infarction in A&E – modelling impact and implementation in the South West

The use of high-sensitivity cardiac troponin was evaluated using discrete event simulation. We investigated changes in key performance indicators, including the number of admissions, and overall length of stay in ED and short stay wards. Reducing the interval between re-testing resulted in a significant reduction in patient time in ED and on short stay wards. Read more.

Using geographic modelling to assess the impact of Minor Injury Unit closures on travel time and attendances

A local commissioning group were looking to close four Minor Injury Units (MIUs) due to low numbers of attendances. In order to better inform their decision, they wanted to understand the potential impact on patient travel times and displacement to other services if these units were closed.  A geographic model to predict the impact of these closures was built. Read more.

Visualising and forecasting ophthalmology outpatient activity in North Devon

An analysis was conducted to visualise and predict future use of North Devon District Hospital's ophthalmology outpatient services. Clinic workload was visualised using geographic mapping techniques and forecasting models were used to predict activity. Outputs were used to inform where community based services, such as Virtual Clinics, should be located. Read more.

What are the factors that most influence demand for ambulances in South West England?

A map of factors that potentially influence demand for ambulance services was built, which was then translated into a simulation model, parameterised with data relevant to the population of South West England.  By running this model with each factor removed in turn, we were able to estimate those factors that are the biggest drivers for ambulance demand. Read more.

Planning theatre time to achieve 18 week elective targets

Simulation modelling was used to forecast waiting times for elective orthopaedic procedures at Yeovil District Hospital, using different theatre schedules and different rules for the allocation of patients to surgeons. The model indicated that the use of pooled waiting lists could reduce wait times and this approach has been implemented into the hospital's new theatre schedule. Read more.

GP appointment systems: How much can “Doctor First” help?

Doctor First is a GP appointment system aimed at reducing patient waiting times, as well as liberating time for GPs. Data from a pilot of the appointment system was used to build a simulation to examine its potential impact and compared these results with those as described by the originator of the scheme. Read more.

Planning neonatal capacity across a network of hospitals: centralisation vs. localisation

A simulation model was built to allow alternative configurations of neonatal services to be evaluated.  The model looked for the closest available cot, taking into account both infant needs and current neonatal workload, as well as examining the tension between centralisation and localisation of services. Read more.

Planning outpatient clinic service provision for TIA patients using location analysis

A facility location analysis model was developed to evaluate the consequences of different transient ischemic attack (TIA) clinic configurations in Cornwall. Provision of rapid assessment and treatment services is essential but particularly challenging in rural areas. The model evaluated the impact on equity of patient access, depending on different clinic locations. Read more.

Allocating patients to community teams: by GP or home location?

The aim of this project was to assess the workload of community teams in Plymouth by comparing two methods of allocating patients to teams; (i) patient allocation by patient home address, and (ii) patient allocation by patient GP. We found that allocating patients by GP resulted in approximately 30% of additional travel time and costs compared with allocating patients by home address. Read more.

Is it operationally practicable for fractured neck of femur patients to remain in an acute hospital during their rehabilitation?

Fractured neck of femur patients are typically treated in an acute hospital and then discharged to a community hospital for rehabilitation after surgery. PenCHORD were asked to build a simulation model to assess the practicability of retaining fractured neck of femur patients in the acute trauma ward for the duration of their rehabilitation. Read more.

Application of simulation and queuing theory to scheduling community mental health assessment

PenCHORD were asked to evaluate the planned roll-out of a “choose and book” telephone booking system for mental health assessment across Devon. Simulation was used to calculate how many appointment slots were needed to meet waiting time targets. Implementation of the system resulted in significantly reduced waiting times for mental health assessment across the county. Read more.

Can the retinal screening interval be safely increased to two years for Type 2 diabetic patients without retinopathy?

Agent-based simulation was used to predict the impact on patient vision of screening patients with Type 2 diabetes for diabetic retinopathy every two years, rather than annually, for those who had yet to developed retinopathy. The model predicted there would be no impact on patient vision if screening was reduced, whilst there could be a 25% saving in screening costs. Read more.

Redesigning emergency stroke pathways to maximise Thrombolysis rates

Computer simulations explored the different ways in which people who have suffered a stroke are managed from arrival at hospital to receiving clot-busting, disability-saving treatment. Recommendations based on the results were implemented at the Royal Devon & Exeter Hospital and follow-up studies indicate there has been a significant improvement in both thrombolysis rates and the time taken to treat. Read more.

Upcoming Events


Search Advice Clinic for Systematic...

Room 2.35, South Cloisters, St Lukes Campus, University of Exeter

These clinics have been set up to help the PenCLAHRC Evidence Synthesis Team to manage and respond...
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PPI Advice Clinic

The University of Exeter, St Luke's campus, South Cloisters

Patient and Public Involvement Clinic What? These clinics have been set up to help the PenCLAHRC PPI Team manage and respond...
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New research will evaluate ways to improve continence for disabled children

21 June 2018

Learning to manage going to the toilet independently is an important milestone in child development....
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Hypnosis may help reduce distress of cancer treatment in children

19 June 2018

Hypnosis could help to reduce the fear of medical procedures in children and young people...
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Job Opportunity – PenCLAHRC Research Fellow (Information Specialist)

15 June 2018

The University of Plymouth are looking to recruit a Research Fellow (Information Specialist) within PenCLAHRC. The key purpose of...
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Research Projects


Theme: Diagnostics & Stratified Medicine

How can we help GPs make better use of thyroid function tests?
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Sharing Evidence Routine for a Patient Centred Plan of Action (SHERPA)

Theme: Person-Centred Care

This project aims to offer a structured approach for GP trainees to manage consultations with...
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Research Projects