Ideas on big data and bridging gaps in care take top spots in 2014 BU Grand Business Challenge in Digital Health

in Case Competition, Graduate Students, News, Students
March 26th, 2014

Asking the big questions is only the start. Joining forces with lead sponsor Merck, Boston University School of Management hosted the second annual Boston University Grand Business Challenge in Digital Health, where teams of MBA students from outstanding business schools around the world started answering one of those big questions: How will information technology influence and transform global healthcare to create value for the world?

The second annual Grand Business Challenge in Digital Health awarded first place to Fudan University School of Management’s mission of bridging the gap between rural and urban populations by providing them equal healthcare opportunities by providing online consulting and education for rural doctors.

“Events such as this provide a real life context for MBA students to work on live problems rather than re-analyze past decisions through cases that they have done in their academic curriculum,” said N. Venkat Venkatraman, David J. McGrath Jr. Professor of Management at SMG and Grand Business Challenge case author and organizer.

“Moreover, unlike standard case competition, this allows students to learn from other students as well as executives from Merck. Given the importance of health sector in the globe and the pervasive availability of digital technology even in remote parts of India and China, digital health is a profoundly important topic. This event allowed us to orchestrate systematic thinking during intense 48 hour period that provided value to the students as well as to Merck.”

Presenting to a panel of Merck executives on specific technological developments, market moves and responses to trends took student’s ideas from a theoretical into a practical arena. Pitching to a specific organization required teams to tailor their advice based to Merck’s business model and offer insights that Merck could realistically implement.

In it’s second year the Grand Business Challenge in Digital Health invited 16 schools to participate. “We are thrilled to welcome such a diverse student population from all over the world,” said David Veira, Assistant Director of Graduate Programs at SMG.

Big ideas with big data

More efficient gathering, analyzing and use of patient data was a common thread in finalist presentations.

Working to reduce the number of medical errors, Medicare costs for unplanned re-hospitalizations and the amount of time and costs for documentation of inpatient nursing care, the MIT Sloan School of Management team took second place with their MerckMe web and app portal providing automated documentation, clinical decision support, and remote monitoring.

Columbia Business School’s idea to provide a digital platform of choice for patients and physicians to store, record and analyze patient data to increase disease diagnosis and patient adherence was awarded 3rd place.

With an initial focus on cardiovascular disease in the U.S., the fourth place team from University of Calgary Haskayne School of Business recommended enabling partnerships to promote the gathering of patient data while encouraging patient engagement and increasing preventative care through wearable devices, mobile apps, and streamed data.

Teams competing in the March 20-22 event included:

  • Boston University School of Management
  • Carnegie Mellon University, Tepper School of Business
  • Columbia Business School
  • Fudan University School of Management – Shanghai
  • IAE Business School – Argentina (Universidad Austral)
  • Indian Institute of Management (IIM) Calcutta
  • IPADE Business School – México (Universidad Panamericana)
  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Sloan School of Management (MIT Sloan)
  • The Ohio State University, Fisher College of Business
  • University of Arizona, Eller College of Management
  • University of Calgary, Haskayne School of Business
  • University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), Anderson School of Management
  • University of New York in Prague (UNYP)
  • University of North Carolina, Kenan-Flagler Business School
  • University of Southern California, Marshall School of Business
  • Washington University in Saint Louis, Olin Business School

The 12 teams not selected to move on to the final presentations had the opportunity to present their ideas to venture capitalists.

Please visit for more information on the Grand Business Challenge in Digital Health.