A systematic literature review of operational research methods for modelling patient flow and outcomes within community healthcare and other settings


Ryan Palmer, Naomi J. Fulop, Martin Utley


An ambition of healthcare policy has been to move more acute services into community settings. This systematic literature review presents analysis of published operational research methods for modelling patient flow within community healthcare, and for modelling the combination of patient flow and outcomes in all settings. Assessed for inclusion at three levels – with the references from included papers also assessed – 25 “Patient flow within community care”, 23 “Patient flow and outcomes” papers and 5 papers within the intersection are included for review. Comparisons are made between each paper’s setting, definition of states, factors considered to influence flow, output measures and implementation of results. Common complexities and characteristics of community service models are discussed with directions for future work suggested. We found that in developing patient flow models for community services that use outcomes, transplant waiting list may have transferable benefits.


Palmer, R., Fulop, N.J. & Utley, M. Health Syst (2017). doi:10.1057/s41306-017-0024-9