David M. Eddy, MD, PhD is a legend when it comes to Evidence-Based Medicine. He coined the term in 1980s, actually. Being exceptionally skilled in mathematics, it was perhaps natural for him to apply it to medicine. The result is Archimedes Model– a mathematical simulation of the human physiology and how it interacts with healthcare interventions.
At the heart of the model are a set of ordinary and differential equations that represent the physiological pathways relevant to diseases and their complications. The ‘variables’ in this model include signs, symptoms, patient behaviors (including adherence), provider behaviors, provider performance, encounters (e.g. ER visits, office visits, admissions), protocols, guidelines, tests, treatments, etc. Basically, it tries to incorporate all aspects of diseases and healthcare system that are needed to analyze downstream clinical outcomes, utilization and costs.
A more loaded one-line description of Archimedes (taken from his original paper in 2002): “It’s an object-oriented, continuous-time, full simulation model for addressing a wide range of clinical, procedural, administrative, and financial decisions in health care at a high level of biological, clinical, and administrative detail.” Phew. I’ll confess that I don’t know what exactly is under the hood. But I know enough about the informatics field to believe that this approach is viable and very exciting.
This YouTube video explains how the model can be used to run virtual clinical trials. Kasier has already backed the findings of Archimedes to change their diabetes care delivery. I think there are fantastic, unlimited opportunities for applying such a fundamental model to medicine- personalized health predictions, public health, health policy, cost-effectiveness and what not. As a startup, they are doing fine. With an impressive list of partners/clients, and a $15.6M RJWF grant (2007), they have a good runway and momentum. They have all the right ingredients to be a change agent for next-generation Healthcare IT.
Jan 2011 Update: The FDA and Archimedes entered into a research agreement to understand the benefits of weight loss compared to the long-term risks of cardiovascular outcomes in patients treated with weight loss drugs.