The HSMA programme trains NHS staff to use the latest advances in computer simulation.
By developing skills and networks, it is helping healthcare providers to make decisions that are based on robust evidence. The programme has been devised and implemented by NIHR PenCLAHRC and the University of Exeter Medical School, and allows Health Service Modelling Associates - HSMAs for short - to spend one day a week with research experts. Over a twelve month period, they each tackle a problem facing their organisation.
The programme is designed to build capacity in NHS trusts, giving them the skills to embed evidence-based practice in all areas of their operational activities.
What is operational research?
Real life organisations can be incredibly complex.
When changes are made to a process or service, it can be difficult to predict the outcomes and ensure the intended effects are achieved. Sometimes, these actions might also have unexpected and potentially serious consequences.
Through the use of computer models and analytical techniques, operational research helps to overcome this problem by producing a very accurate picture of the way a system works. This process allows users to test different scenarios and measure their effectiveness.
In the health service, using this approach means changes can be configured and tested before being rolled out in real life.