INFORMS ANNUAL MEETING eNews DAILYOR Goes to WashingtonWashington, DC

 October 15, 2008 :: Day 4

In This Issue
Schedule Changes
Today's Weather
Advertising Opportunities
Goodbye and Thank You
eNews Daily Survey
Wednesday Plenary
Logistics Guru Conducts Tutorial
Analyzing the Costs of Health Care in the United States
Lawrence Wein Tackles Bioterrorism
Analysis is Important, But Connections are Key
Using OR in Canadian Healthcare
Tuesday Interactive Session Winner
Interactive Session Highlights
FreeTutORials CD
Community/Subdivision Awards
Renew Your 2009 Membership
2008 INFORMS Annual Meeting
Schedule Changes

Any schedule changes for the day will be listed here.

Weather in Washington DC

2009 INFORMS Election Results
2009 Edelman Call for Papers
Nominations for INFORMS Prize being accepted now.
Save the Date! 2009 INFORMS Practice Meeting

For advertising opportunities in the wrap up editon of INFORMS Annual Meeting eNews Daily, please contact Gary Bennett at [email protected]. The wrap up edition will be sent to all 10,000+ INFORMS members in about two weeks.

Goodbye and Thank You from eNews Daily!
Rise and Shine with INFORMS eNews Daily!It has been our pleasure bringing you daily updates of key happenings at the 2008 INFORMS Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C. We hope you enjoyed the coverage of important sessions, feature articles, session change information, and photos. eNews Daily was a production of the following INFORMS departments: Marketing, Meetings, Communications, and Publications. We hope to see you next year at the INFORMS 2009 Annual Meeting in sunny San Diego, California, October 11-14. Farewell!
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Please join us for the Wednesday Plenary Engineering in the Entertainment Industry
Daniel CookDaniel P. Cook, Professor at the Entertainment Engineering and Design Program University of Nevada, Las Vegas will be presenting this afternoon's plenary from 1:30-3pm in Marriott Ballroom 2.
Developments in technology drive, and in turn, are driven by the entertainment industry. Nowhere is this more obvious than in the live theatrical productions created by Montreal-based Cirque du Soleil. Known originally for its acrobatics, Cirque du Soleil has become a powerhouse in the modern theatrical world through the sophisticated integration of automation systems into its shows to control motion, lighting, audio, pyrotechnic, and projection effects. This presentation will focus on the show Ka, the $200 million Cirque du Soleil production located at the MGM Grand hotel and casino in Las Vegas, and will give a backstage look at how technology allows Cirque du Soleil to breath new life into familiar stories.

Cirque du SoleilDaniel P. Cook has spent the last three years working extensively with entertainment companies such as Cirque du Soleil as coordinator of UNLV's new entertainment engineering and design program. He spent the summer of 2007 employed as an on-call stage hand at Cirque's show, Ka, in order to gain a first-hand understanding of how technology is incorporated into the modern live entertainment industry. His more traditional engineering experience includes work for Reynolds Metals, Phillip Morris, Hamilton-Beach, Alcoa, and Apple Computer. He holds a B.S. in Metallurgical Engineering from Ohio State, and a Ph.D. in Materials Science from the University of California, Berkeley.
Logistics Guru Conducts Tutorial on Advanced Freight Transportation Systems
By Ari Mukherjee
Teodr CrainicUrban planning has traditionally tackled passenger transportation - both private and public. But a movement started in Europe and Japan about 15 years ago that wanted to do away with freight movement in the city. Freight transportation was said to interfere with urban life, adding to congestion, pollution, and noise. The idea of City Logistics was hence born and Teodor Gabriel Crainic, a professor at UQAM in Montreal, is at the center of this movement.

"I am an OR guy," he says, "very much interested in transportation application and logistics, and a little bit of telecom. In collaboration with my European colleagues, we were one of the groups who proposed a two-level system for transporting freights in cities. We are the people developing OR methodology for strategic and tactical logistic operations."

crainicProf. Crainic was at INFORMS conducting a tutorial on 'City Logistics: Advanced Urban Freight Transportation Systems' on Tuesday. The three key points of his tutorial are as follows:
  1. Managing freight operation in cities is a problem that is not going to go away. The cities are getting larger, environment concerns are getting critical and energy prices are going up. The problem has not been identified much in North America, but it is coming.
  2. There are a lot of opportunities for OR specialists to venture into this complex problem. There are coordination and synchronization issues and a lot of work can be done.
  3. City Logistics is an effective methodology that takes separate shipments that were individually ordered and consolidates them on fewer vehicles to have an efficient distribution and lesser vehicles in the city.
Professor Crainic has been specifically working on logistic models for large cities where the proposal is on two levels. The first level is with a truck, a tram, or a light rail, that brings freights close to the zone to what is called the satellite platform and then cleaner vehicles operate to distribute the freight into the city.

The tutorial presented an overview of concepts, planning issues and models, and identified research avenues and challenges in the field of freight distribution in urban areas.
Analyzing the Costs of Health Care in the United States
By Dawen Peng
Dr. Steven Cohen, Director at the Center for Financing, Access and Cost Trends at the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) in the Department of Health and Human Services, USA, shared with the audience the various topics that the Center has been working on.

The Center employs statisticians, economists, social scientists and clinicians to achieve their motto, "advancing excellence in healthcare." They also monitor and analyze the current trends in healthcare, ranging from cost, to coverage, to access, and to quality of care. Some figures that were shared are listed below.
  • healthEvery $1 out of $6 of the U.S. GDP (or 16%) goes to healthcare - largest component of federal and state budget.
  • Other western European nations spend less than 10% on healthcare.
  • In 2006, $2.1 trillion was spent on healthcare. That is $7,026 per capita, which is a 6.7% increase from 2005.
  • With this growth rate, it is projected that $4.1 trillion will be spent in healthcare in 2016 (1/5 of GDP).
  • 5% of the U.S. population accounts for 50% of the healthcare expenditures.
  • Prescribed medication expenditures almost doubled from 12% to 21% in ~10 years.
  • The largest expenditure is spent on inpatients (over 30%).
  • Chronic diseases (heart, cancer, trauma-related disorders, mental health, and pulmonary) account for a majority of the expenditures.
  • Medical errors accounted for 44,000 avoidable deaths in hospitals a year.
  • Americans are less healthy: 33% obesity rate and high rate of chronic diseases.
AHRQ aims to provide long-term, system-wide improvement for healthcare quality and safety. To provide policy makers with informed recommendations, surveys, simulations, forecasting models, and other OR tools are often employed to answer difficult questions. Through these methods, AHRQ is able to establish evidence and assess risks associated with alternative care choices.

AHRQ's focus on efficient allocation of resources and structuring of care processes that meet patient care needs aids policy makers to establish the necessary high-level strategies and policies. Especially in dire times like these, issues of rationing become the center of discussion. It is AHQR's responsibility to have the right information to help policy makers make the right trade offs.
Lawrence Wein Tackles Bioterrorism in Philip Morse Lecture
By Ari Mukherjee
Lawrence WeinIn his lecture on Tuesday, Lawrence Wein, professor of management science at the Stanford Graduate School of Business and a security strategist in Senator Barack Obama's team, animatedly described how people would die in the auditorium if there were to be an anthrax attack. Anthrax spores, he said, would seep into the hall and splotch on the carpet.

"Once the spores are inhaled, you're dead in handful of days if there's no medical intervention," Dr. Wein said. The spores, he added, would still be equally toxic if he were to come and kick the carpet in 30 years.

weinJust as McDonalds, Wal-Mart, and Toyota have to make products rapidly and defect-free, Dr. Wein's work with Homeland Security has been to implement OR tools to assist the government in finding ways to get antibiotics and vaccines rapidly to the public, and screen the borders for nuclear weapons and terrorists in a rapid and defect-free way.

Preparedness and response to a bio-terror anthrax attack was one of the four topics that Dr. Wein touched on in his keynote address. The other three topics - preparedness and response to a bio-terror attack on the food supply, routes of transmission and infection control for pandemic influenza, and biometrics (for example, fingerprint matching) to prevent terrorists from entering the country.

In case of an anthrax attack, Dr. Wein proposed that postal workers to distribute antibiotics to the general public to prepare them. To get the details on his proposal, read his op-ed piece in The New York Times ( Wein also mentioned his collaboration with the dairy industry to intensify the heat pasteurization process to prevent an attack on the food supply.

"Milk is much safer now," he said, denoting the U.S. government's policy to intensify pasteurized heating of milk to prevent bioterrorism after the September 11 attacks. Wein has also studied and testified before the congressional committee, stressing the need to switch from a two-finger to a ten-finger matching process at ports of entry.

In case of a pandemic flu attack, he determined that the main mode of transmission is through aerosol consumption from person to person. To prepare for such an attack, Dr. Wein stresses on the need to stockpile face protection gears such as respirators and surgical masks for the general public and to give them out before a pandemic influenza attack.

"It appears from the government's plans that they agree that aerosol transmission is possible and they are suggesting that people take these precautions but they haven't taken the next step to signing the contract to let face mask manufacturers stockpile face masks for such an emergency," he concluded.

The speech was in commemoration of Philip McCord Morse, professor emeritus of physics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), founder and pioneer of modern OR, physicist and Renaissance scientist, community leader, and a leader in professional societies.
Doing Good with Good OR: Analysis is Important, But Connections are Key
By Dawen Peng
Philip SharpHow could analysis and OR help us foresee trends and make intelligent and informed political decisions? Philip Sharp, the president of Resources for the Future and former U.S. House Representative from Indiana, attempts to answer this question in the Doing Good with Good OR Plenary series. Humble but frank, Sharp spoke of the importance of rigorous analysis for important political issues. Furthermore, he elaborated on the institutional connections and the ability to communicate complex issues simply as the crucial factors to make the analysis matter.

sharpFrom the '70s to now, we have been on a roller coaster ride with oil prices. In the 1970's, with the belief of an energy shortage, the National Energy Act was signed to protect the United States from the over-consumption of oil. Tax credits were handed out to encourage people to convert their cars to burn natural gas instead of gasoline. The go-ahead for ethanol was also given around the same time. However, in 1986, oil prices crashed causing investors who relied on conventional wisdom to withdraw. Then came 2004, when oil prices went up unexpectedly, and the government had to update the fuel economy mandate to adjust to the rise. Similar rise and fall goes for the natural gas industry as well. The ups and downs of natural gas influenced the liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal's development, while fueling talks of an Alaskan pipeline (to serve the lower 48 states) and energy ties with the northern neighbor, Canada. In the United States, when energy prices go through the roof, "all bets are off," said Sharp.

However, Sharp thinks analysis is powerful and important, but it is not the means to all ends. "It will help us organize and attack so many unknowns and uncertainties," but persistency to get the ideas across to politicians is crucial. Responding to an audience member's question, Sharp stressed the importance of identifying institutional connections. In the world of politics, the voice of an individual scientist may have some impact, but a collective agreement of a group of politicians will have far greater reach. "The most difficult thing in the Congress is to get people to agree on something," said Sharp.

A scientist's ability to simply communicate the complexity of their research, along with a high level of confidence is the key to engage the interest of politicians, who need to know who and what to trust, especially when reports are being thrown around to counter other reports.

Politicians are typically the most powerful figures in a country and can make the biggest impact. If operations researchers want to do good with good OR, then, as Sharp suggests, identifying institutional connections will be the key.
Using OR in Canadian Healthcare
By Dawen Peng
INFORMS sessionThe Ontario Ministry of Health in Canada would like to reduce the delay in transfer of care from the ambulance to the ER. The delay usually occurs when the ambulance is at the hospital site waiting to transfer patients to the emergency wards. The ministry would like to use alternative sites, urgent care centers (UCCs), to accommodate the ambulance patients who would typically be discharged on the same day, so as to free up time at the ER needed to deal with high-priority emergencies. The good news is that the ministry has the smarts to research the feasibility of this solution before jumping into anything. However, the bad news is that the two databases necessary (EMS & hospital databases) for this experiment do not have identifiers for patients and Ali Vahit Esensoy's team at the University of Toronto cannot identify the same patient in both databases. What's new, right? Healthcare and bad data almost always go hand in hand.

canadaThe good news? By using accurate GPS timestamps and various triage indicators, Esensoy's team was able to produce an algorithm to match over 90% of the patients in the two databases. With the help of the physicians and staff, the team was able to devise a set of decision rules to filter out the patients that would be candidates for UCC. The result of the study is that the proposed UCC solution is in fact not a good idea, because there are simply not enough such patients. This is a classic case illustrating the importance of quantitative analysis for informed decision making.

On the west coast of Canada, two groups within the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) team in OR are making impacts in the British Columbia Cancer Agency (BCCA). They would like to call out to the OR community to help them join in their efforts of establishing an online community (go to to share resources amongst OR professionals working in cancer care.

The BCCA is the sole cancer treatment provider for the entire province and it is lacking in space for examination and administration rooms within the ambulatory care unit. However, again, the process flow related data was not available. The BCCA OR team, headed by Pablo Santib��ez and Vincent Chow, mapped the patient flow process, and then manually collected time and motion data to track the movement of patients and physicians. The data was used for a simulation model to evaluate different what-if scenarios: different appointment scheduling methods and room allocation methods. As a result, the team was able to achieve up to 70% reduction in patient appointment wait time with minimum impact on the clinical duration. They were also able to free up to 26% of the exam rooms to accommodate for other physician duties.

On the academic front, a Ph.D. student at the Sauder School of Business, University of British Columbia, Antoine Saur�, has been helping BCCA in radiation therapy treatment units. This research is motivated by the adverse effect of delays on patients' health such as physical distress and deterioration of the quality of life, and the inefficiencies in the use of expensive resources. Rather than maximizing revenue, the main purpose of our work is to identify good scheduling policies for dynamically allocating available treatment capacity to incoming demand so as to achieve wait time targets in a cost-effective manner. Currently, the number of urgent treatments that would start after the recommended target time is significantly below the target. This goal involves the development of a Markov Decision Process model and simulation models for identifying and testing different types of policies. This is still an on-going research; no results are currently available. However, the team is ready to test algorithms for determining the optimal scheduling policy based on an affine approximation of the value function and a column generation algorithm to tackle the otherwise very large MDP problem.

To obtain more information about these projects, go to
Burcu Aydin Wins Tuesday Interactive Session
By Ari Mukherjee
Burcu Aydin, Tuesday Interactive Session WinnerBurcu Aydin, from University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, won Tuesday's interactive session and a $750 prize with her poster presentation entitled 'Optimization over Tree Structured Objects.'

Aydin's research primarily devolved innovative statistical principles and applied them to develop tools to capture pictures of blood vessels in human brain. She solved optimization questions on both the statistics and OR areas that were never studied before. Her study enables us to look at a picture of person's brain and be able to determine the characteristics of the human being, for example the age, gender, right-handed or left-handedness, or even the race of the person.

"Further in the study, the part that is not done yet is when you look at the picture of the brain and we tell if there's risk for any diseases in the future. That might be the ultimate horizon," Aydin says.

The outcome of Aydin's study is directly applicable to real-life data. It may be a start-up project, but her study has answers that promise much in the field of statistics, OR, and neurology.
Aydin is originally from Instanbul, Turkey, and is in her last year of Ph.D. program in UNC's Statistics and Operations Research department. She presented her dissertation in the form of a poster at INFORMS' daily interactive session contest that eventually won her the top prize. 

Interactive Session Highlights
By Ari Mukherjee
The second Interactive Session competition was held on Tuesday from 12:30-2pm. Click here to read up on some highlighted presentations.

interactiveRob Rose's 'User Centered Employee Scheduling' poster
presented a prototype scheduling program that could be implemented, for example, in a supermarket that has more than 100 part-time cashiers with varying working schedule demands throughout the day.

The project depicted a user-centric approach in an analytical model, where constraints were soft and where the user was in control. A successful implementation of the scheduling system would mean a good solution every time that is fast and interactive, and hopefully can handle the barriers of different objectives.

The user is presented the model both in a spreadsheet and in a graphic format. In the graphic format, the user, who could be the scheduling manager of the supermarket, can interact with the bars and fine tune it. The system, Rose said, could be applied to other setups like call centers and hospitals.

Ajit Appari's 'Information Security Investments in the Healthcare Sector: An Exploratory Study' presented a joint empirical work that he has conducted with two professors from Dartmouth College - Dennis Anthony and Eric Johnson.

In the wake of Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and other state-level privacy regulations, hospitals are investing in information security safeguards along with IT investments. Appari's research attempts to characterize the diffusion of information security investments based on a national survey of information technology in U.S. hospitals.

The key questions Appari's asked in this study were related to the hospital characteristics associated with HIPAA compliance and information security investments (for example, profit status, academic status, revenue sources, hospital size, and technology leadership). Did the investment in specific health information technologies influence HIPAA compliance? Are hospitals considered as technology leaders also more secure?

Here are six findings of the study:
  1. Technology leaders, or the top hospitals in the nation, are more likely to be compliant with HIPAA security rules rather than privacy rules.
  2. For-profit hospitals are more compliant with HIPAA Rules when it comes to security, privacy, and transactions.
  3. Additional investments in electronic medical record (EMR) technologies are associated with higher compliance to security rules.
  4. Additional investments in Clinical technologies are associated with higher compliance to privacy and transaction rules.
  5. Hospitals with higher proportion of Medicare revenue tend to be less compliant with privacy rules.
  6. Hospitals with higher proportion of Medicaid revenue tend to be more compliant with transaction rules.
Appari is a post doctoral research fellow at Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth, NH.

Ibrahim Dogan's 'Inventory Management in Closed Loop Supply Chains under Non-Stationary Demand' was also presented in the Interactive Session competition on Tuesday.

Traditionally in a supply chain management system, the production flows from the suppliers to the customers. Dogan's study also analyzed the products returned from the customer to the manufacturer. The main objective of the study was for the manufacturer to forecast demand and return, and to further use this forecast method to manage inventory and inventory processes.

The demand model is totally different from other studies.

"I am assuming that there are some non-stationary behaviors inside the demand because we know in real life there some assignable causes to demand. I used the Poisson Hidden Markov model to incorporate the non-stationary behaviors," Dogan said.

Dogan is a Ph.D. student from Wayne State University in Detroit, MI.
Don't Leave the Annual Meeting Without Your Free 2008 TutORials in Operations Research CD!
2008 TutORials in Operations ResearchPick up your complimentary copy of the 2008 TutORials in Operations Research CD at the Registration Desk. Find the special tear-out in your printed program and bring it with you to receive your complimentary CD.

The 2008 CD - the most comprehensive yet - includes 15 of the 18 tutorials presented at the meeting. Attendees must present the special 2008 Tutorials in OR tear-out from the program book to receive a free CD.
Community/Subdivision Awards presented on Tuesday. Congratulations to the following winners: 
Women in OR/MS Forum

Award for the Advancement of Women in OR/MS
The Women in OR/MS Award celebrates and recognizes a person who has contributed significantly to the advancement and recognition of women in the field of operations research and the management sciences (OR/MS). The award is presented each year at the INFORMS annual meeting.
Winner: Candace Yano

Presented: October 14, WORMS Luncheon
Renew Your 2009 Membership at Annual Meeting
The Annual Meeting is the perfect time for you to renew your 2009 membership with INFORMS.

If you have recently tried to renew online and were unsuccessful, please try us again!  We have implemented new association management system and are having some growing pains. We think we have exterminated our bugs thus far.

You know how important participating in the Annual Meeting is to your career. The Annual Meeting is just one of the many benefits that your membership dues help support.

Enjoy your time at the 2008 INFORMS Annual Meeting, if there is anything we can do to make your experience better, please stop by the INFORMS booth or the Registration Desk or email [email protected].