Outstanding Innovation in Service Systems Engineering Award — Finalist

“Developing allocation strategy for opioid settlement in Pennsylvania”

June 9, 2022

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — A cross-disciplinary research team from Penn State developed an allocation strategy to fairly distribute  Pennsylvania’s $1.07 billion share of a national $26 billion opioid settlement across the commonwealth. The project was named a finalist for the Outstanding Innovation in Service Systems Engineering Award, co-sponsored by the Institute of Industrial and Systems Engineering and the Penn State Harold and Inge Marcus Department of Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering.

Service systems engineering is the end-to-end design and management of every component needed to meet a specific need, according to Vittaldas Prabhu, Charles and Enid Schneider Faculty Chair in Service Systems Engineering and director of Penn State’s Service Systems Engineering initiative. He said that each of the winning projects clearly and effectively demonstrated how service systems engineering connects seemingly disparate items to understand an entire system, allowing the researchers to then engineer the system in streamlined fashion to achieve the desired results.

The researchers worked closely with the attorney general and local stakeholders to develop an evidence-based and equitable allocation strategy within the state. The allocation strategy consists of a formula-based share allocation, for which multiple-round feedback was sought from local representatives and stakeholders to finalize the metrics and weights, and a “top-up” allocation to ensure a minimum amount for small or rural counties and to promote the equity of allocation in such counties. The allocation split is as follows: 70% to counties based on the combined metrics of overdose deaths, opioid use disorder hospitalizations, naloxone administrations and percentage of opioid shipments; 15% to litigating counties, subdivisions, district attorneys and special districts; and 15% to the commonwealth as a whole to be appropriated by the legislature. All 67 counties in Pennsylvania signed the settlement agreement, and the commonwealth is receiving the full value of the settlement.

Team members include Qiushi Chen, assistant professor of industrial and manufacturing engineering, Penn State; Dennis Scanlon, Distinguished Professor of Health Policy and Administration and director, Center for Health Care and Policy Research, Penn State; Glenn Sterner, assistant professor of criminal justice, Penn State; Danielle Rhubart, assistant professor of biobehavioral health, Penn State; Rob Newton, graduate student, IME, Penn State; and Bethany Shaw, researcher data analyst, CHCPR, Penn State.


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