The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) today announced a five-year, $15.6-million grant to Archimedes, Inc., developer of a powerful, highly realistic simulation model of human physiology, diseases and health care systems. The Archimedes model enables health care organizations and policy leaders to determine reliably and quickly the health and economic outcomes of specific interventions and treatments for patients, providers and payers.
The grant is the largest one to date made by RWJF's Pioneer Portfolio, which supports innovative projects that may lead to important breakthroughs in the future of health and health care. Funding supports the creation of ARCHeS, (ARChimedes Health care Simulator), an online interface and delivery system that will enable many more health experts to use the Archimedes model to answer questions with greater speed and precision. Groups including the American Diabetes Association and the National Committee for Quality Assurance have used the model to forecast which treatment practices improve patient health, or where to target resources most cost-effectively to provide optimal patient care.
Archimedes co-founders David Eddy, M.D., Ph.D., and Len Schlessinger, Ph.D., created the mathematical simulation model because much of medical practice still relies on enlightened guesswork. Clinicians, researchers and health care organizations find it extremely difficult to answer with accuracy and reliability how treatment interventions may affect health outcomes for patients. Policy analysts, payers and large health programs like Medicare also struggle to compare and forecast the effects of different treatment guidelines on health care quality and spending. After years of testing and validation, Archimedes has emerged as the most comprehensive, realistic and detailed modeling tool available to answer questions ranging from physiological pathways to performance measures and cost-effectiveness.
"With the development of ARCHeS, we are ushering in a new era in medical decision-making that may transform the quality and efficiency of health care for all Americans," said RWJF President and CEO Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, M.D., M.B.A. "Archimedes is the gold standard in health care modeling, and the Foundation is pleased to help make this innovative tool accessible to far wider circles of health and health care experts. We look forward to ARCHeS being widely used to provide faster, clearer answers to questions that are absolutely critical to our efforts to raise the quality and lower the cost of health care in the future."
The Archimedes model answers complex questions by creating a highly realistic, carefully validated simulation model of human physiology, diseases and health care systems. Designed to work at the level of detail and realism in which decision-makers must operate, the model has the power, flexibility and accuracy to address a broad range of scenarios. Health care experts use this virtual world of people—with different virtual physiologies, diseases, signs, symptoms, doctors, tests, treatments and outcomes—as a testing ground to answer health care questions that cannot be feasibly, safely and quickly studied in the real world.
Today, the Archimedes model can be used only by highly trained scientists who know its coding specifications. Every application is uniquely configured, making the model costly and time-consuming to use. With RWJF support, the ARCHeS platform will extend the power of the Archimedes model to more health policy and health care decision-makers, including Congress and federal agencies; medical specialty societies and nonprofit disease associations; government programs such as Medicare and Medicaid; insurers and health care provider networks; and others.
Extending the model to allow a wider range of decision-makers to answer more questions can transform health care across several dimensions:
Quality of care. Archimedes reproduces biological and clinical events at the level of detail that physicians truly need in order to make clinical management decisions. As a result, the model can project whether proposed clinical or policy options yield beneficial outcomes.
Cost. Archimedes offers the most detailed model of health care costs available, providing needed clarity on how different interventions may affect health care expenditures.
Comparative effectiveness. The model can compare treatments and procedures to forecast which may lower health care spending without adversely affecting patient outcomes.
"We would never build a skyscraper, bridge or airplane without using models to optimize their designs and ensure their structural integrity. Yet today, that is what health care providers and administrators are forced to do with patient care, resource planning and other critical health care decisions," said Eddy, chief medical officer and founder of Archimedes. "The Archimedes model demonstrates that it is possible to bring this advanced analytical power to health care. And the development of ARCHeS, accelerated by this support from RWJF, will put this power at the fingertips of health care decision-makers around the world. It will enable them to answer questions with much greater certainty, and to apply health care resources much more effectively than has been possible in the past."
About the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation focuses on the pressing health and health care issues facing our country. As the nation's largest philanthropy devoted exclusively to improving the health and health care of all Americans, the Foundation works with a diverse group of organizations and individuals to identify solutions and achieve comprehensive, meaningful and timely change.
The Foundation supports innovative ideas and projects that may trigger important breakthroughs in health and health care. Projects are future-oriented and look beyond conventional thinking to explore solutions at the cutting edge of health and health care.
For more than 35 years, the Foundation has brought experience, commitment, and a rigorous, balanced approach to the problems that affect the health and health care of those it serves. When it comes to helping Americans lead healthier lives and get the care they need, the Foundation expects to make a difference in your lifetime.
Archimedes was founded to improve the quality and efficiency of health care by using advanced mathematics and computing methods to build realistic simulation models of physiology, diseases and health care systems. Archimedes is funded by Kaiser Permanente and is intended to benefit health care worldwide.