ACCS Seminar: Confirmation Seminar

Title: Managing performance in complex health care systems using an agent based model as a decision support tool

Speaker: Ashok Kanagarajah, B.E., M.Eng.Sc., MBA (PhD confirmation seminar)

Date & Time: 3pm Wed 21 May 2008

Venue: 78-622 (General Purpose Sth, UQ St Lucia)

Healthcare is a complex environment that is rarely conducive to analysis in laboratory or field experiments. Effective interventions that aim to improve healthcare require an understanding of the intricate web of interaction involved. The need for this increased comprehension necessitates the use of alternative robust means of analysis - one such being agent-based modelling and simulation.

This research takes the view that healthcare systems exhibit behaviours similar to those of Complex Adaptive Systems (CAS) identified in the literature. Such systems consist of multiple semi-autonomous sub-systems, are typically dynamic and tend to evolve and co-evolve over time as whole and component parts. As part of this evolution, CAS displays patterns of behaviours known as emergence, facilitated by natural selection and feedback mechanism.

The prediction of emergence within healthcare systems is not straightforward but complex and as such act as deterrent to improvement activities. This research will look at agent based simulation techniques to develop a view of predicting emergence. A review of the literature indicates that modelling and simulation has been used within healthcare, however for the most part the simulations represent specific static situations, and little attention has been paid to the evolving nature of healthcare. The simulations developed for the specific purpose tend to become futile once the conditions change.

Agent based simulations provide more robust framework to modify and adopt conditions than traditional simulations. Although agent based simulations have demonstrated capability within defence and supply chain applications there seem to have been few attempts to use agent based simulation within healthcare. This research will focus on assessing the feasibility of using agent based simulation to model an integrated healthcare management system (e.g., Hospital/s) and their behaviours and improvement techniques.   

Host: Peter Lindsay

World-class basic and applied inter-disciplinary research on questions fundamental to understanding, designing and managing complex systems
2009 The ARC Centre for Complex Systems, Australia