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J Neurotrauma. 2012 Sep;29(13):2272-82. doi: 10.1089/neu.2012.2317.

The application of operations research methodologies to the delivery of care model for traumatic spinal cord injury: the access to care and timing project.

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Rick Hansen Institute, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.


The long-term impact of spinal cord injury (SCI) on the health care system imposes a need for greater efficiency in the use of resources and the management of care. The Access to Care and Timing (ACT) project was developed to model the health care delivery system in Canada for patients with traumatic SCI. Techniques from Operations Research, such as simulation modeling, were used to predict the impact of best practices and policy initiatives on outcomes related to both the system and patients. These methods have been used to solve similar problems in business and engineering and may offer a unique solution to the complexities encountered in SCI care delivery. Findings from various simulated scenarios, from the patients' point of injury to community re-integration, can be used to inform decisions on optimizing practice across the care continuum. This article describes specifically the methodology and implications of producing such simulations for the care of traumatic SCI in Canada. Future publications will report on specific practices pertaining to the access to specialized services and the timing of interventions evaluated using the ACT model. Results from this type of research will provide the evidence required to support clinical decision making, inform standards of care, and provide an opportunity to engage policymakers.

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