HHS moves to mathematical modeling for research, intervention evaluation

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has decided to use a new method of mathematical modeling to research, analyze and evaluate the effects of specific healthcare interventions.  

Under a new contract with San Francisco-based Archimedes Inc., all HHS agencies will have access to the web-based Archimedes Healthcare Simulator (ARCHes). Among the agencies involved are the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, the National Heart, Lung & Blood Institute, and the Food & Drug Administration. According to an announcement from Archimedes and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, these governmental units may use ARCHeS to:

  • Analyze prevention activities and management of chronic conditions for patients
  • Design guidelines, performance measures, and incentive programs, such as pay-for-performance
  • Assess technologies and compare the effectiveness of different treatments
  • Design clinical trials
  • Analyze and improve health processes
  • Forecast the costs of healthcare
  • Estimate the cost effectiveness of interventions

The contract between Archimedes and HHS is worth $5 million, according to the announcement of the deal in Federal Business Opportunities. In the contract, HHS says, "The use of modeling and simulation software will enable improved capability and reliability of the results from research and analysis efforts. The insights gained from the use of the modeling and simulation may be used in policy formulation, design of research projects, support new hypothesis generation, promote construction of new analytic frameworks, inform survey design and methodology, and other applications."

Archimedes was developed with support from Kaiser Permanente, which also piloted its IndiGO product. In 2007, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) Pioneer Portfolio gave Archimedes a $15.6 million grant to support the creation of ARCHeS.

Kaiser Permanente has used the Archimedes model to predict the outcomes of combining aspirin, lovastatin, and lisinopril and giving the drug cocktail to certain high-risk patients. As a result of this intervention, the patients experienced a 60 percent reduction in heart attacks and strokes over a two-year period.

IndiGO applies algorithms to clinical databases to predict patients' chances of developing a serious condition such as coronary artery disease. Besides Kaiser, healthcare organizations in Oklahoma, Colorado and Minnesota have adopted IndiGO.

Commenting on HHS' deal with Archimedes, Todd Park, the former Chief Technology Officer for HHS, and the newly appointed Chief Technology Officer of the United States, said, "We're excited that ARCHeS will now be available to staff across the Department of Health and Human Services. It gives us an important new tool to analyze a wide variety of health policy questions and quickly compare different scenarios and outcomes."

To learn more:
- read the Archimedes announcement
- see the listing in Federal Business Opportunities