Team Prescribes Best Medicine in Healthcare Contest
Case Plan Advised Hypothetical Hospital System Dealing With Realistic Problems
Jan. 24, 2012
Hard-nosed economics and ethical judgment calls helped a team of Naveen Jindal School of Management students win a case competition that asked competitors to distribute $500 million in make-believe money throughout a hypothetical hospital system.
The graduate-student team tied for first place and earned $3,000 in the second annual contest sponsored by the North Texas chapter of the American College of Healthcare Executives.
The three-judge panel at the Nov. 17 event awarded both first-place teams the full top-place cash prize, North Texas ACHE Coordinator Lisa Cox said.
The competition had firm footing in real life, said JSOM team captain Raj Shah. “With the economy in crisis and healthcare so expensive, hospital systems are finding it difficult to determine who should get funds first and who should wait.”
Shah said he and his teammates immediately considered the disbursement questions as they role-played as members of a firm counseling the imaginary ABC Health System, an organization of 10 hospitals serving more than 8 million people in a 150-mile area, on how to make wise use of its money.
Shah is both an MBA and an MS in Healthcare Management student — and also co-president of the JSOM-based campus Healthcare Management Club.
His teammates also are active in the club. Co-president Richa Singh and membership chairman Archana Subhash are working toward their MS in Healthcare Management degrees. Carson Marston is an MBA student.
“They gave us financials, market data, demographic data on patient volume, and ethical issues,” Shah said of competition basics. While that might seem like a hefty head start, the team soon realized it needed to factor in many other details that had not been provided, such as, Shah said, “a lot of Medicaid and Medicare cuts coming into the picture.”
Considering several factors for each hospital — including location, operating margins, net revenues, population growth, in-patient volumes and cost to complete a pet project — the team developed a matrix that logically charted outlay recommendations.
But then came ethical deliberations on such questions as whether hospitals with higher percentages of public — Medicaid, Medicare and other government-funded — patients should move forward or back in the system waiting line for improvement projects.
“We just thought about the medical ethics we learned in class,” the non-quantitative side of healthcare administration, Shah said, “then applied our decisions to the matrix.”
Team members consulted Ashley McClellan, chief operating officer and interim CEO of Medical Center of Lewisville, who was assigned to them as a contest mentor. In several conference calls with her, Shah said, “we wanted to get a CEO’s perspective on what we were doing and ask her, ‘Do you think you would do the same?’”
The group checked in, too, with John F. McCracken, executive director of the Jindal School’s Alliance for Medical Management Education program, and with their academic boss, Dr. Forney Fleming, director of the MS in Healthcare Management program.
In a 20-page paper and in-person presentation, the foursome recommended that all system hospitals follow an asset-management strategy.
“But the future of healthcare is in service-line expansion,” Shah added, so the team also advocated the system branch out as a way to remain viable.
“They took advantage of what they have learned the classroom; they networked, and they optimized their resources. Their success is a reflection of their hard work and reflects favorably on the high quality of students in our program,” Dr. Fleming said.
Dr. Forney Fleming (left), director of the MS in Healthcare Management program, helped advise the team and that was led by Raj Shah.
The winning team members (from left) Raj Shah, Archana Subhash, Carson Marston, Richa Singh are all active in the Healthcare Management Club at the Jindal School of Management.