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LK 120
How systems thinking, behavioral modification and simulation modeling can empower patients and providers
LK 120
How systems thinking, behavioral modification and simulation modeling can empower patients and providers
Partner, PwC Consulting
How Systems Thinking, Behavioral Modification, and Simulation Modeling Can Empower Patients and Providers As participatory medicine and digital health technologies create a seismic shift towards a new... Read more

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How Systems Thinking, Behavioral Modification, and Simulation Modeling Can Empower Patients and Providers 

As participatory medicine and digital health technologies create a seismic shift towards a new health economy, there is an ever increasing demand for highly personalized diagnostics and treatment. We believe the answer lies not in more data, but advanced analytics such as system dynamics and agent models to interpret data the right way. There is a plethora of clinical, device, and consumer data now available. By combining all that data correctly, we can exponentially increase its value and analyze it through modeling tools to inform business decisions, predict health outcomes, and empower providers and patients.   Nowhere is this more true than in the case of Metabolic Syndrome (MS),according to Khoo, when looking at MS “there is a great contemporary interest in modeling, the mechanisms underlying MS at the molecular level, we contend that adopting a ‘systems’ approach to understanding the development and progression of this syndrome is likely to yield the highest practical dividends.” (Fig 1)   

System dynamics is an approach to help understand a complex network of feedback loops over time. It is uniquely suited to represent both physiological systems and behavioral outcomes. This technique has been used for decades in many industries ranging from aerospace to financial services.  The modeling of the Earth’s Ocean, atmosphere and geologic systems, as seen by the MIT Climate and Chemistry Model, has been used to understand climate change and how changes impact the overall system (Fig 2).  We now have the technology, modeling techniques, and academic research to use similar tools within the health industry to drive decision-making. System dynamics modeling in conjunction with agent-based modeling can be used to design more effective interventions tailored to an individual or population by allowing thousands of simulations of different scenarios. By testing combinations of interventions prior to implementation, we can predict the “recipe” of interventions with the greatest potential effect health, drive behavior change, and manage down risk.  System dynamics modeling is currently being used both clinically in applications such as the anemia control in hemodialysis patients ii and in the pharmaceutical industry for pre-clinical trials iii. When looking at Metabolic Syndrome specifically, “most studies show that the Metabolic Syndrome is associated with an approximate doubling of cardiovascular disease and that the risk for incident T2D is more than five times higher in individuals with Metabolic Syndrome compared with those without the syndrome” iv “Because the Metabolic Syndrome affects multiple interacting organ systems (i.e. it is a system disease), a systems-level analysis of the disease evolution is essential for both complete elucidation of its pathophysiology and improved approaches to therapy.” 

Healthcare decision-making does not have to be a guessing game based on matching like populations. We can use advanced analytics to better understand health risks, intervene at the right frequency, reduce healthcare costs, and most importantly improve health outcomes. Going forward, to improve health we can use technology advances and target more meaningful and intelligently interpreted data to inspire real change.

Paul D’Alessandro is Principal in PwC’s Health Advisory Practice and is the Global Leader of Sales, Marketing and Customer Experience practice. You’d be hard pressed to find someone who brings a more unique background. His consulting philosophy, whether it be in a B2B or a B2C setting, is to put the customer/consumer at the center of his analysis. In the health sector, his approach works with clients to design and deliver the right customer experience to maximize value. His strategy and operations background while focused today on the health industry today has addressed opportunities in the service and manufacturing disciplines in North America, Europe, Asia, and the Middle East. Paul has led Experience Design (xD) initiatives everywhere from Johannesburg General Hospital to Wall Street. His approach to xD is based on the creation of unique customer experiences that blend the physical place (home, workplace, retail, ect.) with virtual environments (online communities, mobility solutions, word-of-mouth networks). By combining a deep understanding of customer analytics, xD, market assessment/segmentation, and branding/positioning/messaging, he brings to his clients a fresh perspective on the development of technology-dependent sales/marketing strategy and new product/service design.

 He has an MBA from the University of Michigan and an M.S. in Computer Science from UCLA. Paul graduated from the Naval Academy and spent 8 years as a Naval Aviator. The net result: left-brained analytics coupled with right-brained creativity that could only come from someone who has landed a plane on an aircraft carrier over 200 times. 

 

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