Health Services Modelling Associates (HSMA) Programme

Published Date: 5 Oct 2018

Following the successful 2016-17 Health Service Modelling Associates (HSMA) programme (https://health-modelling.org/), we launched – a new and expanded programme in close collaboration (funding, design and support) with SW AHSN in 2018. Fifty-two applications were received from NHS staff across the region with 26 selected for the new programme’s Phase 1 - three months training and support to develop project proposals for Phase 2 (9 months). Nineteen HSMAs from 12 NHS organisations are now undertaking projects in Phase 2, addressing a wide range of issues, including: ambulance response times, mental health services, glaucoma treatment, patient flow, timely discharge and cancelled operations.

The programme has already stimulated significant collaboration between NHS organisations, with most projects involving HSMAs from different organisations. One HSMA from Plymouth has already used Phase 1 learning in his own team, using Geographic Information System analysis to inform decisions about access for out-of-area patients at sites in the community. 

The HSMA programme resonates strongly with our partners. Not only has the SW AHSN committed half the cost of the programme and offered administrative support, but the programme is stimulating a step change in the use of OR locally e.g. the Royal Cornwall Hospitals Trust and Devon Partnership Trust have set up OR teams. To support the wider use of OR without the need for new software investment by Trusts, we are supporting HSMAs in using Free and Open Source software. Growing links with other CLAHRCs in developing similar capacity is exciting and we plan a comprehensive, collaborative evaluation of future programmes.

The programme has already stimulated significant collaboration between NHS organisations, with most projects involving HSMAs from different organisations. One HSMA from Plymouth has already used Phase 1 learning in his own team, using Geographic Information System analysis to inform decisions about access for out-of-area patients at sites in the community. 

The 2018 HSMA cohort

Contribution of PenCLAHRC

The HSMA programme has been developed and delivered by PenCLAHRC, in partnership with the South West AHSN. We have delivered six full-day training sessions in Phase 1 to develop HSMAs’ skills in modelling and simulation methods, problem structuring skills, and project planning and management. We provide mentoring support to HSMAs to help them develop their projects, consider how they may best be implemented to maximise impact for their services and for patients, and offer advice to guide them through the modelling process. The PenCLAHRC PPI team also provided input into the decision-making process for which projects to take forward.

What happened next? 

PenCLAHRC will deliver seven additional training sessions and nine Learning Set Meetings and will host a seminar to present HSMA work to NHS staff, academics and the media. This will be achieved with fewer staff in the PenCLAHRC OR group than last year.

South West AHSN has contributed significant resource to the expansion of the HSMA programme.

PenCLAHRC are working with other CLAHRCs (North Thames and Wessex) to develop the programme nationally and we plan to bid for funding for an evaluation of the programme in future.