Vanderbilt’s Center for Health Care Modeling Growing Global Health Research

For years, Professor John Graves, PhD, has been studying health care markets and the policies that influence them. Using statistical models and data from multiple sources, Graves develops models to inform decision-makers and policymakers.

Graves heads a small group of faculty in the Department that aims to answer a simple question asked in dozens of different contexts within health care: Is it worth it? For example, is what we spend on a particular intervention returning the results we want in terms of lives saved or expensive care reduced or averted?

Years of Modeling Expertise Expand Reach

The Vanderbilt Center for Health Economic Modeling was formally established in 2021 to dive deeper and expand its focus beyond health care markets and the Center’s efforts to deliver timely, critical data about the COVID-19 pandemic to state and local leaders.

“Once we got through (COVID-19 modeling for the state) we re-engaged with the original mission, which was to harness within and across department and center expertise in modeling,” Graves said.

Supported by grants from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Foundation and Bloomberg Philanthropies in 2022, Graves and a team of colleagues from the Department including Assistant Professor Ashley Leech, PhD, and Assistant Professor Marie Martin, PhD, M.Ed., traveled to Thailand to provide a week-long intensive course to teach modeling methods and improve cost-effectiveness and decision analysis in low- and middle-income countries mostly in Africa and Southeast Asia.

“The initiative tries to go into low and middle income countries and do things like establish better death registries or cancer registries, just trying to bring data to bear and capacity to measure health outcomes and things like that in resource constrained settings,” Graves said.

It’s just one example of what the Center aims to do over the next several years, including partnering with other similar centers on some projects, and expand beyond what’s common among them.

“We have the expertise to branch out into (areas) like workforce modeling, healthcare, workforce antitrust considerations of concentration in markets and what that means for mergers and acquisitions,” Graves said. “We have a bit more of a broad focus, and so we can do more than most modeling centers elsewhere, which I think puts us in a pretty unique place relative to other places.”
Similar courses have been developed and conducted in other venues, including the 2023 Society for Medical Decision Making annual conference in Berlin, and the International Health Economics Association annual congress in Cape Town, South Africa.