"Learning from Data for Decision Making in Health and Humanitarian Logistics: Insights and Challenges in a World with Increasing AI" by Professor Julie Simmons Ivy

The ISE Department, the College of Health, and the Healthcare Systems Engineering Program are pleased to announce that Professor Julie Simmons Ivy from the Edward P. Fitts Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering and Fitts Faculty Fellow in Health Systems Engineering, North Carolina State University, will give the Spencer C. Schantz Distinguished Lecture "Learning from Data for Decision Making in Health and Humanitarian Logistics: Insights and Challenges in a World with Increasing AI", on Friday, August 18 2023, from 2:00 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. in Rauch Business Center RB 184 (Perella Auditorium), 621 Taylor Street, Bethlehem PA 18015.



Abstract: Decision making to satisfy the basic human needs of health, food, and education is complex. We present an overview of two illustrative studies using data to inform decision making in health care delivery associated with sepsis and hunger relief.

In the first study, we integrate electronic health record (EHR) data with clinical expertise to develop a continuous-time Markov decision process model of the natural history of sepsis. We use this model to better understand the stochastic nature of patients’ health trajectories and determine the optimal treatment policy to minimize mortality and morbidity. Specifically, the optimal health states for first anti-infective and first fluid are identified. We formulate this as a stopping problem in which the patient leaves the system when he or she receives the first treatment (intervention) and receives a lump sum reward. Our objective is to find the optimal first intervention for health states to minimize expected mortality and morbidity. We explore the effect of the complex trade-offs associated with the intervention costs and patient disposition costs which are subjective and difficult to estimate. Our model captures the natural progression along sepsis trajectory using a clinically defined treatment delayed population. The model translates observations of patient health as defined by vitals and laboratory results recorded during hospitalization in the EHR to capture the complex evolution of sepsis within a patient population. This framework provides key insights into sepsis patients’ stochastic trajectories and informs clinical decision making associated with caring for these patients as their health dynamically evolves.

In the second study, in collaboration with our food bank partner in North Carolina, we develop a single-period, weighted multi-criteria optimization model that provides the decision-maker the flexibility to capture their preferences over the three criteria of equity, effectiveness, and efficiency, and explore the resulting trade-offs. Food banks are challenged with juggling multiple criteria such as equity, effectiveness, and efficiency when making distribution decisions. Models that assume predetermined weights on multiple criteria may produce inaccurate results as the preference of food banks over these criteria may vary over time, and as a function of supply and demand. We introduce a novel algorithm to elicit the inherent preference of a food bank by analyzing its actions within a single-period. The algorithm does not require direct interaction with the decision-maker. The non-interactive nature of this algorithm is especially significant for humanitarian organizations such as food banks which lack the resources to interact with modelers on a regular basis. We explore the implications of different decision-maker preferences for the criteria on distribution policies.


Bio: Julie Simmons Ivy is a professor in the Edward P. Fitts Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering and Fitts Faculty Fellow in Health Systems Engineering. She previously spent several years on the faculty of the Stephen M. Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan. She received her B.S. and Ph.D. in Industrial and Operations Engineering at the University of Michigan. She also received her M.S. in Industrial and Systems Engineering with a focus on Operations Research at Georgia Tech. She is a President of the Health Systems Engineering Alliance (HSEA) Board of Directors. She is an active member of the Institute of Operations Research and Management Science (INFORMS), Dr. Ivy served as the 2007 Chair (President) of the INFORMS Health Applications Society and the 2012 – 13 President for the INFORMS Minority Issues Forum. Her research interests are mathematical modeling of stochastic dynamic systems with an emphasis on statistics and decision analysis as applied to health care, public health, and humanitarian logistics. This research has made an impact on how researchers and practitioners address complex societal issues, such as health disparities, public health preparedness, hunger relief, student performance, and personalized medical decision-making and has been funded by CDC, NSF, Clinton Health Access Initiative, and the UNC Cancer Center.


Spencer C. Schantz Distinguished Lecture Series: This lecture series is endowed in the name of the late Spencer C. Schantz, who graduated from Lehigh in 1955 with a B.S. in Industrial Engineering. Following progressive responsibilities with several electrical manufacturing companies, in 1969 he founded U.S. Controls Corporation and became its first CEO and President. The Spencer C. Schantz Distinguished Lecture Series was established by his wife Jerelyn as a valuable educational experience for faculty, students, and friends of Lehigh’s Industrial and Systems Engineering department.