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Usefulness of process simulation in medicine
Process simulations are very useful in medicine and health. There are many processes that happen daily in clinics and hospitals which have certain fixed variables and some variables that have some degree of flexibility. Consider discharged patients waiting for medication from the hospital pharmacy, intra-operative patients waiting to be operated on, emergency patients in transit being waited upon by emergency personnel, the mathematics surrounding the time it takes dispensing ward intravenous and oral drugs or the time it takes for the performance of basic procedures. The list in health is exhaustive. Many of these factors lead to health care worker disatisfaction as these workers due to the labour-intensity of the service, always sense that things could have been done differently. Simulations of process sometimes leads to the insight that the solutions in policy can range from tiny adjustments (such as part-time deployment of an extra human resource or use of a different instrument) to radical change (such as rebuilding part of the facility to increase access). It is important that public health researchers learn to use these tools effectively to present communities with better solutions. The latest management paradigm of "Don't automate, obliterate" comes to mind. When utilising these types of tools one frequently realises that the whole process needs to be rethinked fundamentally in order to have better outcomes. One of the problems of today's epidemiology is the static that is build into it. When you present data to management, they would rightfully answer and say "So what". If you, however are able to feed that same data into a more dynamic modelling scenario, it is as if the mental juices start flowing and the managers start roleplaying solutions more effectively. It also forms the basis for more informed decision-making with which managers can inform stakeholders, owners or shareholders for the reasons for certain decisions taken. The role of process simulation in medicine has due to its adaptability a long way still to go in years to come.