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MIT Sloan Data Tools and Programs Aid Healthcare, State Policy Makers

Data analytics and modeling enable policymakers and responders to see where outbreaks are occurring and where they might occur next.

Note: TDWI’s editors carefully choose press releases related to the data and analytics industry. We have edited and/or condensed this release to highlight key features but make no claims as to the accuracy of the author's statements.

A group of faculty from the MIT Sloan School of Management, working with students in a range of MIT graduate programs, has undertaken a wide range of projects to respond to COVID-19 -- developing data analytics to guide policymakers, creating a network to help nursing homes in New Hampshire, helping nursing homes in Massachusetts hire critical frontline workers, and getting supplies of protective equipment for senior care facilities, among other activities.

The group, dubbed the COVID-19 Policy Alliance, is led by Profs. Vivek Farias, Simon Johnson, Kate Kellogg, Valerie Karplus, and Retsef Levi and includes a team of MIT Sloan Executive MBA students as well as Ph.D. students from across the MIT campus. They have been working seven days a week since early March to keep COVID-19 from overwhelming the U.S. healthcare system and to help guide policies for targeted social distancing practices.

From the outset, the focus has been to try to prevent clusters of illnesses from developing among older individuals, especially those living in nursing homes and other residential facilities. In other nations such clusters have led to hospital “crashes,” leaving care inadequate for everyone. In the U.S., nursing home deaths make up a disproportionate amount of deaths.

“The Covid-19 Policy Alliance set out to help thwart healthcare collapse and economic devastation. Our team is making a real impact in states like Massachusetts, Georgia, and New Hampshire,” said Professor Simon Johnson. 

”Our playbook provides the intelligence and execution strategy to augment what state and local governments are currently doing,” said Andrew Surwilo, MIT Executive MBA 2020.  The Alliance’s efforts have included developing and deploying data analytics.

Profs. Vivek Farias and Retsef Levi have developed data analytics and modeling that enable policymakers and responders to see where outbreaks are occurring and where they might occur next. The National Guard is now using their tools in Georgia to allocate resources.   

Prof. Farias noted, “We have been very fortunate that -- through various data sharing partnerships with health companies Claritas and Buoy Health, and a partnership with the data visualization company Tableau -- our team has been able to build predictive models that operate at a detailed level. Support from Amazon has further allowed us to develop software to guide decisions based on these predictive models.” “The Alliance’s tools take real-time data to forecast the need for hospitals, ICU beds, and ventilators down to the U.S. county level. These models help decision makers allocate medical and other resources. Our data makes it more likely that COVID and other patients will have the care available that they need.” said Prof. Levi.

Find out more at or the group’s LinkedIn page.


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