Simulations are mathematical models that combine evidence from research and other sources to approximate how real-life systems behave under particular conditions. They can help researchers and policymakers in several ways. These models help translate research and other evidence into a form that decision makers can readily understand. One can experiment virtually with policy levers or other interventions to understand how they affect outcomes of interest. Simulation can be a tool for discussion, collaboration, and big picture thinking among researchers, analysts, and policymakers throughout the policymaking process. And finally, simulation can help researchers identify policy- relevant holes in the research literature.

Availability
Free
Level
101

Thursday, October 23, 2014

This webinar is part one of a two-part series titled, Simulation as a Tool to Inform Health Policy. 

Background

Simulations are mathematical models that combine evidence from research and other sources to approximate how real-life systems behave under particular conditions. They can help researchers and policymakers in several ways.  These models help translate research and other evidence into a form that decision makers can readily understand. One can experiment virtually with policy levers or other interventions to understand how they affect outcomes of interest.  Simulation can be a tool for discussion, collaboration, and ‘big picture’ thinking among researchers, analysts, and policymakers throughout the policymaking process. And finally, simulation can help researchers identify policy- relevant holes in the research literature. 

Overview 

This free webinar was the first in a two-part introductory series for health services researchers at all stages of their careers, public and population health professionals, and those from the policy arena interested in learning about simulation models and how to use them.

In the first webinar, Patty Mabry, with the National Institutes of Health, provided an overview of simulation models and how they can help us better understand public health and health care systems. Subsequent speakers shared on specific examples to review the three major types of health systems simulation models, which differ in their emphases. Bobby Milstein, from The Fannie E. Rippel Foundation, discussed system dynamics models, which focus on interactions among populations within a system. This type of model is particularly useful in understanding ‘feedback loops,’ the cyclical interactions among the different populations that make up a system. Danielle Varda, from the University of Colorado Denver, discussed network analysis, a tool that focuses on the structure of relationships between individuals or groups and can be used to understand specific connections and collaboration among subgroups in a community.  Finally, Ernest Moy, with the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality and current AcademyHealth Innovator-in-Residence, discussed agent-based modeling, a tool that focuses on demonstrating the interaction among individual ‘agents’ (i.e. either people or groups in a complex system)  and how they can both change and be changed by their environment.

Learning Objectives

  • An overview of simulation and how it can be applied to public health and health care systems.
  • A description of the three main types of simulations and their uses in public health and health care.
  • An understanding of when, why, and how simulations can improve policymaker and researcher understanding of complex policy decisions.

Course Level: 101 (Introductory)


The second webinar, Effective Use of Simulation to Guide Health Policy will take place on Friday, November 14, 2014 from 1:00-2:30pm EDT and will discuss experiences and lessons learned for using and communicating about models to policymakers. Speakers include Ross A. Hammond, Ph.D., The Brookings Institution; Karen J. Minyard, Ph.D., R.N., Georgia Health Policy Center; Dylan George, Ph.D., U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; and J. Jaime Caro, McGill University. Please click here for more information or to register.

Acknowledgement: This webinar series is hosted by AcademyHealth’s Translation and Dissemination Institute and Public Health Systems Research program, with support from Kaiser Permanente and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.


Faculty Bios
     
Michael E. Gluck, Ph.D., M.P.P., (moderator) is the Senior Director of Evidence Generation and Translation, where he co-Directs AcademyHealth's Translation and Dissemination Institute, directs several of the Institute's projects, and works with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Changes in Health Care Financing and Organization (HCFO). His interests and work focus on the translation and communication of research to inform policy.   He has held positions with the former Congressional Office of Technology Assessment, the National Academy of Social Insurance, the California Health Benefits Review Program, and Georgetown University.  He received a B.A. in history magna cum laude from Haverford College and M.P.P. and Ph.D. degrees in public policy from Harvard University.
     
Patty Mabry, Ph.D., is a Senior Advisor for Disease Prevention in the Office of Disease Prevention (ODP) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH).  She is currently leading an effort to create a computer-based automated tool capable of deep characterization of the NIH prevention research grant portfolio. Previously, Dr. Mabry was Acting Deputy Director and a Senior Advisor in the NIH Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research (OBSSR). Dr. Mabry has held positions in academia, small business, and the federal government. She has published on the topics of tobacco control, interdisciplinary research, systems science, and big data in journals such as the Lancet, PLoS Computational Biology, International Journal of Behavioral Medicine, and The American Journal of Public Health. Dr. Mabry earned her Ph.D. in clinical psychology from the University of Virginia.

Bobby Milstein, Ph.D., M.P.H., directs ReThink Health’s work in systems strategy and sustainable financing and stewardship. An expert in health system dynamics and policy, Dr. Milstein has overseen development of the ReThink Health Dynamics Model. He spent 20 years at the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, where he founded the Syndemics Prevention Network and coordinated planning and evaluation activities for a number of public health initiatives. Dr. Milstein has a PhD in Public Health Science from Union Institute & University, an MPH from Emory University, and a BA in Cultural Anthropology from the University of Michigan Honors College.

Danielle Varda, Ph.D., is an Associate Professor at the School of Public Affairs, University of Colorado Denver, with a secondary appointment in the Colorado School of Public Health, Department of Health Systems, Management, and Policy. She is the Director of the Center on Collaborative Governance. She specializes in interorganizational networks and network leadership, focusing specifically in Public Health Systems and Services Research. Her research focus is on evaluating the network structure of collaborations between the public, private, and nonprofit sectors and the subsequent network effects of these recorded interactions. With funding from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, she is the author of a social network analysis software tool called PARTNER (Program to Analyze, Record, and Track Networks to Enhance Relationships - www.partnertool.net) that measures interorganizational relationships. This tool includes a validated survey and analysis tool and is in use in over 600 communities across the U.S. and 29 countries. She also coordinates the Network Leadership Training Academy, where public sector practitioners come to learn how to build, manage, and evaluate effective networks.  Her research can be found in AJPH, Frontiers in PHHSR, HEB, NVSQ, JPHMP, JPH, among others.

Ernest Moy, M.D., M.P.H., is a Medical Officer in the Center for Quality Improvement and Patient Safety at the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ).  At AHRQ, his work has included directing the development of the annual National Healthcare Disparities Report and National Healthcare Quality Report and related web tools and supporting AHRQ’s Excellence Centers for the Elimination of Ethnic/Racial Disparities and AHRQ’s Patient Safety Organization program.  Prior to joining AHRQ, he was Director of Research and Assistant Vice President of the Center for the Assessment and Management of Change in Academic Medicine at the Association of American Medical Colleges where he conducted research on the missions of academic medical centers and developed benchmarking tools to help these institutions improve performance. Dr. Moy is a graduate of Harvard College and New York University School of Medicine, as well as a former Robert Wood Johnson Health Care Finance fellow at Johns Hopkins University.

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