System dynamics modelling of health workforce planning to address future challenges of Thailand's Universal Health Coverage.
Leerapan B., Teekasap P., Urwannachotima N., Jaichuen W., Chiangchaisakulthai K., Udomaksorn K., Meeyai A., Noree T., Sawaengdee K.
BackgroundSystem dynamics (SD) modelling can inform policy decisions under Thailand's Universal Health Coverage. We report on this thinking approach to Thailand's strategic health workforce planning for the next 20 years (2018-2037).MethodsA series of group model building (GMB) sessions involving 110 participants from multi-sectors of Thailand's health systems was conducted in 2017 and 2018. We facilitated policymakers, administrators, practitioners and other stakeholders to co-create a causal loop diagram (CLD) representing a shared understanding of why the health workforce's demands and supplies in Thailand were mismatched. A stock and flow diagram (SFD) was also co-created for testing the consequences of policy options by simulation modelling.ResultsThe simulation modelling found hospital utilisation created a vicious cycle of constantly increasing demands for hospital care and a constant shortage of healthcare providers. Moreover, hospital care was not designed for effectively dealing with the future demands of ageing populations and prevalent chronic illness. Hence, shifting emphasis to professions that can provide primary care, intermediate care, long-term care, palliative care, and end-of-life care can be more effective.ConclusionsOur SD modelling confirmed that shifting the care models to address the changing health demands can be a high-leverage policy of health workforce planning, although very difficult to implement in the short term. of health workforce planning, although very difficult to implement in the short term.