Gloucestershire PCT pilot the Commissioning Simulator
Gloucestershire PCT pilots the Commissioning Simulator

A new computer-based simulation programme has been launched by Humana Europe, which replicates the three-year business cycle of a PCT and could influence future commissioning.

The commissioning tool, which is being offered to all strategic health authorities (SHAs) by the Department of Health, is said to provide a risk-free environment for PCTs to develop their commissioning skills, and help them see what lies ahead over the next few years.

Designed to be used during two-day seminars, the software is based on existing NHS information and provides PCTs with predictions on how they can improve on their current performance and meet their objectives for the next three years through their commissioning.

The software and associated seminar has been developed in partnership with Swedish simulation software specialists BTS, and is evolved from existing software used in the business world for cost forecasting.

Speaking at the UK launch Per Stahle, a director at BTS, told E-Health Insider Primary Care: “This is a unique way of forecasting what needs to be addressed in the next two years in the space of two days. The outcome of the programme is to improve performance in care pathways such as obesity and heart failure. Through achieving this, PCTs can benefit from reduced costs, and release funds for re-investment in areas in need of funding.”

BTS staff visit the PCTs and take them through the programme. Staff can then use the tool to see how they can achieve their desired outcomes for specific pathways. The system automatically changes the data to reflect each simulation and advises the user whether it is within their target range or not.

Last month, the system was piloted by Gloucestershire PCT, whose chief executive, Jan Stubbings, said the system had helped them to see how specific targets could be achieved by devoting specific amounts of commissioning to selected pathways, including reducing obesity and improving mental health.

“The great thing about the Commissioning Simulator was that it gave us the chance to practice our commissioning skills in a risk-free environment, that was fun and enjoyable for us all. Having data in front of you like that, and being able to simulate facts to see what is potentially facing us in the next three years helps us better understand our local healthcare landscape and how we can reach out to them through commissioning,” she said.

The aim of the simulator is to give PCTs and SHAs a perception of what lies ahead for them in the coming years. Stahle stressed that it is a learning tool, not something which should be relied upon.

Speaking at the simulator’s launch the DH’s director of commissioning, Gary Belfield, said the tool was pivotal to providing world class commissioning in the NHS.

“I hope the simulator will work to achieve the DH’s aim of world class commissioning. The programme offers NHS personnel the opportunity to actively get involved and join in our quest to deliver world class commissioning in our health service,” he said.

Baroness Cumberlege, a senior associate of the King’s Fund, added: “I want PCTs to be in the driving seat, but like driving a vehicle, this is best done in a safe environment. The Commissioning Simulator is a fun, safe and effective way of achieving this for all health bodies in the UK.”

Humana says the Commissioning Simulator will be implemented across the UK over the coming months and will “enable stakeholders in local health economies to collectively address how to improve the health of their population and increase public satisfaction.”


Commissioning Simulator