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what role do patient outcomes play in OR/MS models for healthcare?

by Laura McLay on June 25th, 2013

I talked with a few people after a session from the medical comunity. One of the topics surrounded the objectives of our models: those of us in OR/MS tend to optimize class systems/operations/manufacturing metrics such as efficiency, coverage, and service times.

We tend not to optimize patient outcomes, and they are hypothetical when we do (for example, we may use survival curves from the literature).

We could collect patient outcomes after implementing the model in practice (and that would make for an excellent Interfaces article), but that takes a long time and isn’t necessary for publication in OR/MS journals. For “buy in” in medical journals, having demonstrated improvements in patient outcomes is necessary for changing policy. Not having patient outcomes can therefore delay positive changes to practice.

I understand why medicine takes a different perspective than OR/MS. I may be biased, but I’l like to see OR/MS get buy in from the medical community before implementation. Moreover, patient outcomes may not always make sense (e.g., when considering fairness or  avoiding rare events that may not always have adverse outcomes). What is your take on this issue?

1 Comment
  1. The paper below might answer some of your questions.
    Just-as-good Medicine. Less expensive, lower-quality innovations abound in every economic sector—except medicine http://www.americanscientist.org/issues/pub/just-as-good-medicine/4

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