This project was funded between January 2018 and March 2019.

  • Led by Kent County Council Public Health in collaboration with Whole Systems Partnership and supported by the health and care organisations across Kent & Medway.
  • Aimed to develop new ways to support population health modelling and better service design within the Sustainability and Transformation Partnership (STP).
  • Created a Community of Practice to develop skills in systems dynamics in local staff from different health and care professional backgrounds, using a variety of learning approaches.

The Community of Practice (CoP) is one of Kent County Council Public Health’s efforts to identify and implement better analytical methods to solve complex population health management issues, using their linked dataset (Kent Integrated Dataset, or KID) and other data sources.

Regular face-to-face stakeholder workshops, webinars and personalised training and mentoring sessions were held with local staff from different professional backgrounds.

Up to 90 people participated, developing their skills in ‘system dynamics’ (SD), a modelling method used to simulate how the health status and health care usage of different population groups would change over time across a range of scenarios.

Four modelling projects were completed, which have influenced local commissioning and decision making.

The CoP has led to an increased appreciation of the potential contribution of systems thinking and how SD could be used in complex planning decisions. It also demonstrated the potential benefits of non-analysts developing such skills, with the help of expert advice, such as data gathering and model refinement, and validation through local stakeholder engagement.

SD forms a significant element of the STP Analytics Strategy. Workforce development opportunities are being explored to ensure sustainability, for example a Systems Thinking Apprenticeship standard. Alongside this, a new database, the ‘KERNEL’, is being developed, building on the success of the KID. This will become a valuable data resource for future simulation modelling projects.

Learning from the project has been shared through presentations and publications, and an evaluation by the University of Southampton has recently been completed.

Contact information

For more information about this project, please contact Abraham George, Consultant in Public Health Medicine, Kent County Council.

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