RAND researchers suggest specific improvements to data, as well as creation of a communications forum for modelers and policy-makers, to increase the utility of models that analyze health policy options, in this essay from Health Services Research in 2020.
The authors examined two types of models commonly used for health policy evaluation: microsimulation and cell-based models. Microsimulations are useful for modeling complex systems; but, in order to be accurate, they need large amounts of data about agents, their relationships and impacts on each other. Microsimulations are strong models for health policy changes, including health insurance reform. Cell-simulations are coarser and can be used when large amounts of data are not available or necessary. The simplicity and transparency of cell models makes them attractive.
The authors make specific recommendations to strengthen health policy modeling:
The authors note that even models with limitations can help policy-makers, as long as those limitations are understood and clearly communicated. But, according to the authors, given the scale of current health policy reform efforts, investing in the tools necessary to provide policy-makers with useful information should be a high priority.