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Clinton Foundation Deploys SAS

Originally published February 9, 2010

The struggle against HIV/AIDS and other scourges of developing nations shares unexpected concerns with large corporations: limited resources; too much data; too little useful information; and a challenging and changing environment.

And just as 92 of the top 100 companies on the 2009 FORTUNE Global 500 list did, the Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI) selected SAS, the leader in business analytics, for technology to support good decisions and good investments as it battles the spread of HIV/AIDS, malaria, tuberculosis and other severe health threats.

More than 90 percent of the 33 million people with HIV/AIDS live in economically depressed, developing nations. CHAI, founded by President William J. Clinton in 2002, sought to negotiate lower drug prices, raise funds for treatment and work with governments in those countries.

“Without true cost and impact information, people don’t always make optimal decisions,’’ said Megan O’Brien, PhD, Research Director for CHAI’s Center for Strategic HIV Operations Research. “Decision making improves when donors, governments and medical providers understand best- and worst-case scenarios, and trade-offs along the way.

“SAS lets us do complex math in real time or very quickly – calculations you can’t do on the back of an envelope. There are things SAS does in minutes that take hours using other technology.’’ CHAI tried using Microsoft Excel for complex simulations, but found that the spreadsheet was not up to the task.

With SAS Analytics software, part of the SAS Business Analytics framework, CHAI:

•    Creates and updates forecasts of anti-retroviral medicine demand, successfully encouraging generic suppliers to manufacture appropriate formulations of adult and pediatric AIDS medications with lower pricing.
•    Creates and updates combination-therapy forecasts to streamline the malaria drug market.
•    Generated a TB drug forecast that helped convince a major manufacturer to lower prices.
•    Shares forecasts and models with the United Nations Programme on AIDS and the World Health Organization.
•    Develops treatment models together with health ministries globally to maximize limited resources.

In an example of how SAS Business Analytics helped CHAI better manage limited resources, O’Brien recently worked with government officials in a sub-Saharan nation to transition chronically ill outpatients from a soon-to-be-closed hospital to a government hospital. Officials worried that closing one facility would overwhelm the other.

“Our simulations guided a plan for deploying staff and adjusting patient flow so the government hospital could absorb the new patients without overtaxing capacity,’’ she said. “We clearly demonstrated how local officials could accommodate the change without additional resources.

This BeyeNETWORK news item contains information from a recent press release by the company mentioned.