MIT Sloan School of Management’s Healthcare Lab focuses on transforming the industry

Enrollment in action learning course increased by 45%

CAMBRIDGE, Mass., March 16, 2017 – The healthcare industry is going through a massive transformation as its emphasis shifts from transactional care for sick patients to continuous health management of patient populations. This transformation requires the development of new technologies, businesses, and clinical models as well as the emergence of new players in the healthcare industry. 

At the MIT Sloan School of Management, students learn first-hand about this evolution through its cutting-edge Healthcare Lab (H-Lab). Now in its fourth year, the course provides MIT students with a multidisciplinary action-learning approach to understanding the business challenges and opportunities in healthcare, and offering solutions.

MIT Sloan Prof. Retsef Levi says, “H-Lab student teams work on complex problems with host organizations to find solutions that can be implemented concretely, quickly, and efficiently. A unique feature of the teams is that they are comprised of Masters’ students, PhD candidates and even undergraduates from MIT Sloan well as across the MIT campus. Some have extensive experience in the healthcare industry and others are seeking to enter that area. That diversity makes it rewarding to teach the class and creates a dynamic learning experience for the students.”

The four-month course, which provides learning both within the classroom and on-site at host organizations, focuses on four main aspects of healthcare:

• Financial and organizational structures and incentives;
• Major system design and operational challenges;
• Data and analytically-driven healthcare delivery and health management; and
• Innovation in healthcare and health management.

This year, H-Lab saw a 45% increase in enrollment. Launched in 2013 with 29 students and seven projects, this year it included 45 students and 12 projects. Student projects ranged from developing a strategy for moving to a community based accountable care organization for The Dimock Center, to understanding, reducing and mitigating patient no-shows at the Boston Medical Center Endoscopy Unit, to developing an internationalization strategy for the autism focused augmented reality startup Brain-Power. The course is a core requirement for students seeking to earn the MIT Sloan Healthcare Certificate.

The analysis provided by student teams is also beneficial to the host organizations. Michael Hu, an MIT Sloan PhD student who previously worked on an H-Lab project with Boston Medical Center’s Cardiology Clinic and currently serves as a teaching assistant for the class, says, “Our host organization implemented new strategies informed by our team’s recommendations and has been able to increase its clinic utilization by 7% since implementation. It reached out to us after the project ended to continue the collaboration with the intention of expanding the project to other clinics.”

Dr. Barry Stein, an Executive MBA student at MIT Sloan who took H-Lab this fall, says, “In my long career as a physician, I had never taken a course before that captured the complexity of healthcare so extraordinarily well. Having the opportunity to learn from students from different backgrounds and participating on a team with such rich and diverse talent galvanized me. A significant impact can be made in healthcare because of the coherent perspective, skills and knowledge taught in this course. I finished H-Lab feeling very optimistic about the future of the health care delivery system.”

Rebecca Luoh, an MIT undergraduate student in Bioengineering, says, “I was thinking about changing healthcare more through policy or public health strategies, but this course showed me how to make an impact through startups and other businesses. Now, I’m thinking about ways to push the market to bring a product or service into the healthcare system.”

H-Lab reflects MIT Sloan’s signature action learning approach. Through various methods of reflection, such as updates, team processing, mentor coaching, posters, and public presentations, students link theory and practice before, during, and after their project. The result is an intensive experiential learning process.

Anne Quaadgras, a senior lecturer at MIT Sloan and an H-Lab mentor, notes, “This is a win-win relationship, as host organizations get new ways of looking at important problems through an MIT Sloan lens, and students get an appreciation for the complexity of the healthcare system and the many ways it is possible to make a difference.”

The MIT Sloan School of Management is where smart, independent leaders come together to solve problems, create new organizations, and improve the world. Learn more at mitsloan.mit.edu.