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Developing Personalized Disease Screenings for Patients Saves Lives and Money

Personalized disease screening recommendations for patients with chronic conditions is better for patients

BALTIMORE, MD — Current health care guidelines focus on management of one disease and ignore some patients’ underlying, chronic conditions. New research in the INFORMS journal Management Science finds that if personalized disease screening recommendations are made for these patients, it will save lives and money for the health care system.

“We find that the consideration of chronic conditions in developing screening guidelines significantly alters disease screening recommendations, and therefore reduces the misuse of limited screening resources,” says Oguzhan Alagoz of the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

The study, “Personalized Disease Screening Decisions Considering a Chronic Condition,” conducted by Alagoz alongside Ali Hajjar of Harvard Medical School, considers the optimal management of disease screening (e.g., cancer, HIV) while accounting for a chronic condition (e.g., hypertension, diabetes, etc.) and found the value of personalized policies is much higher for people who are at risk of developing chronic conditions compared to people who do not have any chronic conditions.

In a case study using real breast cancer epidemiology data, the researchers demonstrate how their findings can be used to personalize breast cancer screening for women with type 2 diabetes. In addition to providing a personalized breast cancer screening schedule for women with diabetes, the researchers found important policy insights that were not previously recognized by the medical community.

“We found that compared to nondiabetic women, women with diabetes should be screened less aggressively, but screening should end at similar ages. Also, the adherence to the recommended screenings is more crucial for women with diabetes compared to nondiabetic women. Such personalized breast cancer screening policies for women with chronic conditions have major resource implications as well because using them could save up to 2.6 million mammograms annually in the US alone,” concludes Alagoz, a professor in the Industrial and Systems Engineering Department at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

- This press release was originally published on the Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences website