Multi-agent Systems for Healthcare Simulation and Modelling

Raman Paranjape and Asha Sadanand

Publisher

Information Science Reference

ISBN

978-1-605-66772-0

RRP

£165

Reviewed by

Sheila Bullas

Score

10 out of 10

Multi-Agent SystemsThe editors, researchers from University of Regina and University of Guelph, Canada, have brought together a set of papers discussing practical issues arising when building multi-agent systems to address healthcare issues. The papers are mainly from Canadian researchers, but contributions from USA, Italy, India, Australia and Russia are also included.

Agent technology emerged as an area of research in the 1990s. It is now well established as an efficient and effective approach in medicine and healthcare, particularly where electronic environments need to be sensitive and responsive to the presence of people, for example electronic patient records, medical diagnosis, patient monitoring and treatment, resource and task coordination and data sharing. Traditional modelling techniques are not sufficient to deal with the complexities of the real world as I know only too well from my own work simulating healthcare resource scheduling in the late 1980s.

The potential for practical use of multi-agent systems in healthcare is immense, but the actual impact is still in research activities. With this book, the authors aim to begin the process of moving from research into practice.

Starting with an overview of healthcare, there is a comparison of systems in Canada, US and UK and of the economics of healthcare. This is followed by a review of eight recent papers on the use of multi-agent systems in healthcare, describing practical applications such as the care of Alzheimers patients and management of diabetes patients.

The effect of changes to complex healthcare systems can be unpredictable and therefore unforeseen adverse effects may result. An excellent chapter describes how multi-agent modelling can be used to predict outcomes of possible changes in a safe environment.

The authors also present a model that can be used for allocating resources with examples of diabetic patient modelling, hospital service modelling and scheduling of hospital resources. This is followed by a simulation aimed at improving performance and productivity of operating theatres. While designed for the Canadian system, this would easily transfer to the UK.

There is a section on physician and patient support systems, which includes systems to automate the application of clinical guidelines and modelling a system for wellness (helping individuals to understand their own level of wellness). The final section is about population modelling systems and includes examples related to mental illness and use in developing countries.

The papers explore the different tools and techniques used, and also describe the applications, which are at different stages of their development. Some are working systems, while others describe proposed work.

This book is aimed at academics, researchers and practitioners who are involved in simulation and modelling in healthcare. It is an excellent, if expensive, book for a minority audience. It is a very practical review of the current state of research.

Further information: Eurospan Bookstore

December 2009