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Living lab to slash NHS costs

The Brunel-led Cumberland Initiative is opening a ‘living lab’ for clinicians and health managers to play ‘war games’ with the NHS using large scale computer gaming and other modelling techniques.

The lab also includes a mocked up A&E where clinicians and managers can try out different scenarios for making emergency departments more effective - without practising new ideas on sick patients in a busy hospital. 

The ‘CumberLab’ aims to be a national test bed for NHS innovation, and opened for business on July 6 in Slough.

The Cumberland Initiative provides a mixed group of academics, clinicians and computer simulation firms to help. They believe ‘stronger is better’ and their aim in the coming year is to get 30 projects up and running across the UK.

Commenting on the new facility, Brunel’s Professor Terry Young said: “It would be highly impractical, not to mention risky, to test radical new ideas in an operational hospital.

“This means that until now NHS change has been slow and incremental. But when we use the lens of computer simulation to view our NHS, we can compare scenarios and select the best. Our goal is to help the NHS in England save £20 billion every year – approaching 20 per cent of the budget – through systematic remodelling of processes for every care pathway.

“From text messages to satnav, our lives are now driven by predictions and estimates. So this outlook should be no different for healthcare. What if there were a satnav for A&E predicting likely patient numbers four hours ahead? This makes a lot of sense.”