Use of Modelling Tools

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Theme: Systems, Services and Design

Research Team: Steffan Bayer, Maria Kapsali

The project addressed the issue of the role of simulation modelling in the planning of health care infrastructure and services. Simulation models can result in improved stakeholder buy-in, creative problem solving and more effective decision processes. Simulation modelling can be used for various purposes. It can be used as a tool to predict the behaviour of the real world or as a tool to build consensus among stakeholders with different views and objectives, i.e. as a boundary object. The characteristics of the simulation models (e.g. accessibility to non-experts, type of visual representation) and the characteristics of the people who use the models (e.g. experience) will influence the role the models play.

This project studied the use of system dynamics and discrete event simulation models in planning projects in health care, in particular the roles (as technical, boundary or epistemic object) they can have in planning processes with diverse stakeholders. The study was based on comparative in-depth case studies based on participant observation fieldwork and ex-post interviews. The case studies were drawn from consultancy projects a number of specialized simulation consultancies are carrying out for clients in the healthcare sector.

The analysis  first focused on comparing projects that developed systems dynamics models and then compared those with projects which have developed discrete event simulation models. The study aimed to understand the roles these two types of models have for planners and other stakeholders and the factors which influence these roles as technical, boundary or epistemic objects. The study also aimed to assess the suitability of different modelling approaches in healthcare planning.

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