Dr Alison Harper

Research Topic Title:  Applying advanced data science for health and social care operational decision-support to reduce delays in care.


Using data science, considerable value can be gained from health and social care data for supporting operational, strategic, and clinical decision-making to improve the quality of care in terms of efficiency, patient outcomes, staff satisfaction, and reduced costs. Due to the challenges in implementing these tools in an applied setting, studies tend to focus on technical, rather than implementation challenges. My PhD took a design approach to such applications in healthcare, emphasising an early focus on the challenges of implementation using iterative cycles of development and evaluation.

Lack of availability of community health and care services is a recognised contributor to the pressures faced by hospitals; optimising capacity allocation can improve cost-efficiency and patient outcomes. During this fellowship I will conceptually map community health and care services, which is a complex system of NHS and Local Authority-funded care, private carers, and the voluntary sector.  A set of preliminary models will be developed to generate outcomes of interest. The models will be designed iteratively for operational and strategic decision-support and emphasis will be placed on the usability of the models themselves, as well as to the handover and output materials. The aim is to explore how data science applications can support demand and capacity decisions in health and social care.

Mentor: Prof Thomas Monks


Onen-Dumlu, Z., Harper, A.L., Forte, P.G., Powell A.L., Pitt M., Vasilakis C. and Wood, R.M. (2021) “Optimising the balance of acute and intermediate care capacity for the complex discharge pathway: computer modelling study during COVID-19 recovery in England”.  Advance Online Publication

Monks, T., Allen, M., Harper, A., Mayne, A. and Collins, L. (2021) “Forecasting the daily demand for emergency medical ambulances in England and Wales: A benchmark model and external validation”. Advance Online Publication https://osf.io/a6nu5

Harper A. and Mustafee, N. (2021) “Chapter 3.7: Real-Time Discrete-Event Simulation”. In: SCS M&S Body of Knowledge of Modeling and Simulation Guide. Oren, Zeigler & Tolk (Eds.) https://scs.org/body-of-knowledge-archive/

Harper, A., Pitt, M., De Prez, M., Onen Dumlu, Z., Vasilakis, C., Wood, R. and Forte, P. (2021) “A demand and capacity model for home-based intermediate care: optimizing the ‘step down’ pathway”. Accepted in: Proceedings of 2021 Winter Simulation Conference.

Tolk, A., Harper, A. and Mustafee, N. (2021). Hybrid Models as Transdisciplinary Research Enablers. European Journal of Operational Research. 291(3): 1075-1090.

Harper, A., Mustafee, N., Yearworth, M. (2020). Facets of Trust in Simulation Studies. European Journal of Operational Research, 289(1): 197-213.

Mustafee, N., Harper, A. and Onggo, S. (2020) “Hybrid Modelling and Simulation (M&S): Driving Innovation in the Theory and Practice of M&S”.  In: Proceedings of 2020 Winter Simulation Conference, December 14-18.

Harper, A. and Mustafee, N. (2019) “A Hybrid Modelling Approach using Forecasting and Real-Time Simulation to Prevent Emergency Department Overcrowding.” In: Proceedings of 2019 Winter Simulation Conference, December 3-6, Washington.

Harper, A. and Mustafee, N. (2019) “Proactive Service Recovery in Emergency Departments: A Hybrid Modelling Approach using Forecasting and Real-time Simulation” In Proceedings of the 2019 SigSim PADS Conference, June 2-5, Chicago, USA.

Mustafee, N., Powell, J.H. and Harper, A. (2018) “RH-RT: A Data Analytics Framework for Reducing Wait Time at Emergency Departments and Centers for Urgent Care”. In: Proceedings of 2018 Winter Simulation Conference, December 9-12, Gothenburg, Sweden.

Harper, A. (2018). A Hybrid Systems Approach Using Real-Time Data and Computer Simulation: A Research Framework and its Implementation in the Context of Urgent and Emergency Care. In Proceedings of the 2018 Winter Simulation Conference, Gothenburg, Sweden.

Mustafee, N., Powell, J.H. and Harper, A. (2018) “Right Hospital-Right Time: A Business Analytics Framework for Analyzing Urgent Care/A&E Wait Time Data”. In Proceedings of the 2018 Operational Research Society Simulation Workshop, April 11-13, Stratford, Worcs.

Harper, A. and Mustafee, N. (2017). “A Hybrid Approach using Discrete-Event Simulation and Forecasting for Endoscopy Services” In: Proceedings of 2017 Winter Simulation Conference, December 3-6, Las Vegas, Nevada.

Mustafee, N., Powell, J.H., Martin, S., Fordyce, A. and Harper, A. (2017). “Investigating the Use of Real-time Data in Nudging Patients’ Emergency Department Attendance Behaviour” In Proceedings of the 2017 Spring Simulation Multi-Conference, April 23-26, Virginia Beach, VA.


Email: a.l.harper@exeter.ac.uk