Socio-economy & New Tech

AXA Awards


Finding the best way to organize chronic care management to improve health while containing costs

Chronic diseases such as cancer, cardiovascular diseases, chronic respiratory disease and diabetes are the largest cause of death in the world. Facing a rising global epidemic, healthcare systems around the world are in search of new care models. Prof. Evrim Didem Günes, whose research interest is in service operations management in health care systems, aims to provide insights on how best to organize for chronic care management to improve health outcomes while containing healthcare costs.
To achieve this goal, Prof. Evrim Günes will develop mathematical models that will replicate the care pathways to help us understand the opportunities as well as challenges that arise from different parameters. In other words, such models will allow the investigation of different care provision systems and provide insight about their performance. « For example, we will be able to see how the hospital admission rates are affected by the delegation of some tasks to general practitioners in the system, or predict things like the impact of healthy behaviors in patients » Prof. Evrim Günes explains. Indeed, the objective of Prof. Günes’ research is to improve healthcare, not only by optimizing the health systems but also people’s behavior. « Chronic diseases are long-term conditions that almost never heal. But in most cases, a healthy way of life can help prevent them or make a significant difference after the onset of the disease », she points out.

Tackling the issue at different levels to understand the care system

« The existing research on chronic care management models are usually conceptual or they focus on the results of one case study in particular », reports Prof. Evrim Günes. « What is missing is a general model, like the ones widely applied in analyzing production or service systems, that will enable testing the performance of a similar system in different scenarios ». To create such models for chronic care management, the study will tackle the issue at different levels and with an interdisciplinary approach. At the individual level, patients’ and physicians’ behaviors will be investigated to understand their impact. At the healthcare system and care provider level, alternative chronic care management systems will be developed and their performance will be investigated. At the health policy level, the incentive mechanisms for different care models will be studied in order to find the best fit for different health systems.

« Trends such as increasing data availability and use of technology to monitor personal health information can be considered as opportunities that can lead to innovative care models. Taking advantage of these opportunities, Prof. Evrim Günes intends to provide a tool capable of estimating future health states and behavior of patients as well as the load on health systems. Using modeling and analysis, her research will contribute to increasing our understanding of how best to organize for chronic care management depending on a number of parameters, including political and financial variables. Given the rapidity with which the burden of chronic diseases is currently increasing, her findings will provide invaluable insight for the future of health care systems.

Evrim Didem


Koç University