HHS taps Archimedes for high-powered analytics

The Department of Health and Human Services has contracted with San Francisco-based Archimedes, a healthcare modeling company, to put high-powered mathematical analytics in the hands of its agencies, signaling "a new era of medical decision-making."

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The technology will enable the agencies to research, analyze and evaluate the effects of specific healthcare interventions more quickly and accurately, Archimedes executives say.

The company bills the Archimedes Model, developed initially with support from Kaiser Permanente, as “the most advanced mathematical modeling tool available to answer complex questions on health and healthcare.”

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Under the contract, HHS will make a new Web-based interface called the Archimedes Healthcare Simulator (ARCHeS) available to its agencies, including the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), the National Heart, Lung & Blood Institute and the Food & Drug Administration (FDA).

The goal is 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; and
  • estimate the cost effectiveness of interventions.

HHS’ ability to offer agencies widespread access to the technology was spurred by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) Pioneer Portfolio, which, in 2007, provided a $15.6 million grant to support the creation of ARCHeS, which makes the Archimedes Model more accessible and affordable for public policymakers and nonprofit users.

“When we initially made this grant, I said that the development of ARCHeS would usher in a new era in medical decision-making that we believe has the potential to transform health and healthcare,” said Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, MD, president and CEO of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. “By getting ARCHeS in the hands of HHS and all of its agencies, we’ve taken a very big step toward realizing that potential. Our goal has always been to create access to this innovation for the public policymakers and researchers best positioned to use it to inform decisions that will improve health and healthcare for all Americans. We now see that happening.”