One of the most inspiring talks of this conference was the presentation by Dimitris Bertimas on Healthcare Analytics. Given how full the ballroom was, I wasn’t clearly the only one interested in the topic. Dimitris presented two projects he did with MIT students to foster personalized medicine. The first project led to the development of an online tool that helps people with diabetes choose what and when to eat and how much and when to exercise as a function of their metabolism and their food preferences. The second project has led to the development of a database of different cancer treatments that have appeared in the medical literature since the 70s, so as to predict the effectiveness of untried treatments and to tailor treatments to patients’ characteristics.
What was very interesting from an intellectual standpoint was the breadth of OR techniques associated with the development of these tools, including preference elicitations, advance statistics, and robust optimization to name a few.
More importantly, the reported results were extremely encouraging. What Dimitris Bertsimas demonstrated is that, with a concerted effort, our profession can make a dramatic impact on improving health outcomes while curbing healthcare costs.