Former student Sze-chuan Suen, now an Assistant Professor at the University of Southern California and Professor Margaret Brandeau, along with collaborator Jeremy Goldhaber Fiebert from the Department of Medicine, receive the 2017 Pierskalla Best Paper Award from INFORMS.
Effective treatment for tuberculosis (TB) patients on first-line treatment involves triaging those with drug-resistant (DR) TB to appropriate treatment alternatives. Patients likely to have DR TB are identified using results from repeated inexpensive sputum-smear (SS) tests and expensive but definitive drug sensitivity tests (DST). Early DST may lead to high costs and unnecessary testing; late DST may lead to poor health outcomes and disease transmission. We use a partially observable Markov decision process (POMDP) framework to determine optimal DST timing. We develop policy-relevant structural properties of the POMDP model. We apply our model to TB in India to identify the patterns of SS test results that should prompt DST if transmission costs remain at status-quo levels. Unlike previous analyses of personalized treatment policies, we take a societal perspective and consider the effects of disease transmission. The inclusion of such effects can significantly alter the optimal policy. We find that an optimal DST policy could save India approximately $1.9 billion annually.
About the Pierskalla Award
The Health Applications Society of INFORMS sponsors an annual competition for the Pierskalla Award, which recognizes research excellence in the field of health care management science. The award includes a $1000 honorarium for the best paper presented in a Health Applications Society sponsored session at the annual INFORMS conference. The award is named after Dr. William Pierskalla to recognize his contribution and dedication to improving health services delivery through operations research. Dr. Pierskalla is a Distinguished Professor Emeritus at the Anderson School at UCLA and the Ronald A. Rosenfeld Professor Emeritus, The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania, and serves as an editor on numerous operations research journals.