Healthcare (and not Education) at INFORMS Analytics

by Harlan Harris on April 1st, 2014

The 2014 Edelman Award winner having just been announced — to the CDC and Kid Risk, for their work in more effectively eradicating polio worldwide — I’m struck by the role of healthcare analytics in this year’s conference. Three of the six finalists for the Edelman were in healthcare. (The other two were Grady Health System, an Atlanta-based hospital chain, and the Alliance for Paired Donation, which facilitates long chains of kidney donors to drastically increase transplant rates.) Additionally, one of the five Wagner Prize finalists was in healthcare analytics, as was the INFORMS Prize winner, the Mayo Clinic. Amazing work, all.

Are the number of healthcare winners just an outlier, or is their a fundamental change in OR, in the healthcare industry, or both? Healthcare organizations have won the Edelman in 2007 (Memorial Sloan-Kettering), 1992 (New Haven Health Department), 1990 (Health Care Financing Administration), and 1979 (The Greater New York Blood Program). So it’s not unprecedented at all. Still, I remain curious as to whether there’s a trend afoot.

Relatedly, as a DC resident, we often hear of “Healthcare and Education” as a linked pair of industries. Both are systems focused on social good, with intertwined government, nonprofit, and for-profit entities, highly distributed management, and (reportedly) huge opportunities for improvement. Aside from MIT Leaders for Global Operations winning the Smith Prize (and a number of shoutouts to academic partners and mentors), there was not a peep from the education sector at tonight’s awards ceremony. Is education, and particularly K-12 and postsecondary education, not amenable to OR techniques or solutions? If not, are opportunities being missed? If it is, why aren’t we seeing them at this conference?

Thoughts? Leave a comment below, find me in the hallways, or tweet me @harlanh!

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