2012 Edelman Finalist CDC

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Advancing Public Health and Medical Preparedness with Operations Research

Planning for a catastrophe involving a disease outbreak with the potential for mass casualties is a significant challenge for emergency managers. CDC public health experts teamed with operations researchers to devise sophisticated modeling and computational strategies that address challenges in mass dispensing. The O.R. technology is integrated into a powerful information decision-support suite, RealOptĀ©, for tactical and strategic operational planning. RealOpt has been used in hundreds of drills and dispensing events. Careful before/after studies conducted in a sample of these events illustrate throughput efficiencies improved by 175% to 1000%, and staffing needs reduced by 32% to 85%. Having been widely distributed, the RealOpt system has a U.S. user base of over 4,000 public health and emergency directors. By dramatically improving mass dispensing capability and efficiency under limited resources and stressed environments, this work has the potential to enable rapid and effective interventions for at-risk populations, and to lessen the subsequent disease cost, care burden, mortality and economic impact.