Abstract for: Examining the role of simulation models in health planning

Simulation models can occupy very different roles modelling in the planning of health care infrastructure and services. They can be a close replica of the real world used to produce exact answers or as a tool in building consensus among stakeholders with different views and objectives, as a boundary object. The role a simulation model can have in a decision process is constrained by the degree to which the model and its results are accessible to stakeholders with no or limited experience with modelling. The visual representation of the model and its results are likely to be of a major influence on the accessibility of the model. However, whether a visually more accessible model will result in improved stakeholder buy-in, creative problem solving and more effective decision processes remains an empirical question. This paper draws on a currently ongoing research project on the use of system dynamics and discrete event simulation tools in health care and presents some early conceptual work on the role of modelling in the planning process.