In the current economic climate of financial austerity more efficient and effective use of resources has become ever more paramount given the constraints on funding for new investment opportunities.
This requires organisations to be able to understand how resources are being utilised and whether there is scope to improve performance to obtain the best return from their use. By having an appreciation of the spare capacity that may exist within the operational aspects of the organisation, it is possible not only to deliver current targets, but by being more efficient, achieve future aspirations from within existing resource capacity.
Nowhere is this more prevalent than within the NHS, whereby operational protocols tend to focus on the management of patient flows rather than on the most appropriate use of resources. This can be addressed using demand and capacity modelling that enables the organisation to establish the ‘full picture’ of current resource utilisation and identify where excess capacity exists. The outputs of this process allow the organisation both to understand the impact of current operational practice on the resource base and make informed decisions around reconfiguration of resources to meet changes in demand and financial constraints.
Demand and capacity modelling should entail a two-step approach whereby the first stage is to develop a front-end demand module which is driven by both speciality led GP referral patterns (informing outpatient requirements) and emergency admissions and how these translate into the patient flows into the Trust (linked to diagnosis and HRG). This will provide a picture of demand that will allow for comparisons against contracted levels of activity to determine if these are aligned. This should incorporate an analysis of the nature of referrals associated with different age profiles to allow the impact of demographic changes on diagnosis and treatment to be assessed. This forms the basis of the ‘business as usual’ profile which can be flexed to reflect commissioner led intentions for the use of hospital services eg shift to providing care in the community.
Download the report for the full article detailing the second stage and examples.