Professor Muckstadt Alerts Alumni to Issues in Health Care Logistics
|Professor Muckstadt (left) engages his Atlanta audience in questions and comments following his talk on health response logistics.|
Events of recent years such as the SARS outbreak, the anthrax scare, the events of 9/11/2001, and hurricanes and floods have alerted medical professionals and the public to the need to be ready to face large-scale public health emergencies. ORIE Professor John A. Muckstadt, Acheson-Laibe Professor of Engineering and an expert in supply-chain planning and management in manufacturing and distribution, is leading a Cornell initiative to address similar issues for such emergencies.
At the end of April, 2008, Muckstadt travelled to Atlanta and Jacksonville to meet with local Cornell alumni and provide his perspective on the science of public health response issues. He discussed the problems of determining what resources -- people, equipment and supplies -- would be needed to respond adequately to arange of events and what types of command and control systems are needed to manage a response properly.
In the talk, slides of which are available here, Muckstadt defined the science of response logistics, discussed response logistics activities at Cornell, and provided an example of an assessment of operational and financial risks to hospitals as they respond to a pandemic influenza outbreak. He noted the high level of collaboration involved in this work, most notably with Weill Cornell Medical College, other academic institutions, governmental and non-governmental organizations, health care providers and corporations.
Together with Weill Cornell Public Health professor Nathaniel Hupert, Muckstadt has established the Institute for Disease and Disaster Preparedness, which will soon be relocated to Weill-Cornell facilities in Manhattan. With students and colleagues in Ithaca, particularly ORIE professor Peter Jackson, he has developed an interactive hospital risk assessment tool for Ithaca's Cayuga Medical Center.
The tool is a software decision support application on the Internet that provides a secure, data-centric, interactive, model-based website for collaboration among hospital executives and analysts. The tool incorporates a software simulation of patient, resource and financial flows that was developed in a Master of Engineering project carried out by James Codella and Jeffrey Schvey under the guidance of Professor Jackson. Muckstadt showed examples of the inputs and outputs of the system to the alumni groups.
Muckstadt told the alumni groups that the risk assessment tool is designed to take into account the unfolding of a situation and response over time so that the implication of various policy alternatives can be investigated in advance. He pointed out that, just as in the case in manufacturing and distribution supply chains, random variability and financial considerations play important roles in evaluating the outcomes of strategies.
More than two dozen people attended the Altanta presentation, including Cornellians and people from Emory University, Georgia State University and the Centers for Disease Control. The talk was hosted by the Cornell Atlanta Alumni Association. A representative of the association reported that Muckstadt "provided a very enlightening and entertaining presentation and Q&A session." The Jacksonville visit was hosted by the Cornell Club of Greater Jacksonville. According to Muckstadt, attendees at that talk were similarly enthusiastic.
Muckstadt's visits were part of the Cornell Alumni Federation Speaker Series, which introduces Cornell faculty and staff to alumni, bringing alumni up to date on new developments in academic areas and current campus activities and issues. The series is coordinated by the professional staff in the Office of Alumni Affairs and Regional Alumni Offices.