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Forecasting for healthcare professionals

25 August 2020

Video conference call

A Senior Lecturer in Management Science from Cardiff University is helping healthcare professionals to make more informed decisions and plan for the future with greater accuracy in a series of free workshops.

Using ‘R’, an open-source data science and statistics software programme, Dr Bahman Rostami-Tabar, who is an expert in forecasting from Cardiff Business School, will deliver training across five of the UK’s NHS Trusts.

With support from colleagues in the NHS-R Community, he hopes to promote a culture of systematic use of modelling and forecasting which can assist the NHS with critical decisions that drive policy-making, management, clinical practices and supply chains.

Using real and simulated data of patient arrivals in NHS Accident and Emergency departments, the workshops:

  • outline the forecasting process
  • introduce the theory underpinning different forecasting models
  • demonstrate how to apply different models in ‘R’

By accurately forecasting the need for a service, NHS planners and analysts are able to allocate resources with greater accuracy. For users of the NHS, this can reduce congestion, improve the quality of service, reduce staffing pressure, decrease waiting times and reduce costs for the health system.

Dr Rostami-Tabar said: “Often, the difficulty is that implementing forecasting principles to support decision-making processes requires significant technical expertise. And that’s where these workshops with the NHS-R community come into their own...”

“By equipping NHS professionals with the skills to accurately forecast using real data, we’re able to make a difference to patient and staff experiences of healthcare delivery.”

Professor Bahman Rostami-Tabar Professor of Data-Driven Decision Science

Dr Rostami-Tabar started the project in February 2020, delivering a workshop in person to delegates from the Nottinghamshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust.

With the impact of government-enforced lockdown measures in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, he switched to online delivery for June and August’s instalments in Calderdale, Huddersfield and Gloucestershire.

Paul Bullard, a Demand and Capacity Analyst for NHS England, participated in the June workshop.

He said: “The instructor-led approach meant that I could finally get to grips with ideas that had been mystifying from just reading a textbook, for which I would like to extend my thanks to Bahman, Tom and Alysia for their work on running the course...”

“I am looking forward to integrating all that I learnt into my role, finally feeling like I’m coming from a perspective of understanding what methods to use and how they work.”

Paul Bullard Demand and Capacity Analyst for NHS England

Two further workshops remain scheduled for 2020 in the West Midlands NHS Foundation Trust and in NHS Wales, though it is currently undecided whether these will be delivered in person or online.

Dr Rostami-Tabar was recently recognised as an Associate of the NHS-R Academy. The academy provides training and support for NHS R-based solutions, complementing existing resources such as free workshops.

Find out more about Forecasting using ‘R’ in the NHS.

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