MBA Case Competition Featured in Fortune

in Case Competition, MBA, News, School, Students
November 4th, 2013

Student work analyzed, celebrated

Senior editor of Fortune Ryan Bradley sat in on a recent case competition held by Boston University School of Management, which hosted teams of MBA students from around the world. The teams pitched ideas for a company that they believed would revolutionize health care—and earn them $22,500, plus the support of the event’s two hosts, Merck and Microsoft, to launch their startup. “Interested in seeing what bright MBAs-to-be were dreaming up as viable business solutions to different health care crises,” Bradley attended the competition, ultimately finding a theme within it: gamifying the system.

One of the many difficulties in treating chronic diseases is that one must adhere to a strict medical regimen and see it through to the end of its prescription. Chronic disease demands chronic medication. Taking medication is no fun, but the idea that it might be made a game is, at least, as old as Mary Poppins. The cost of not adhering to the full prescription of drugs is hundreds of billions of dollars in ongoing medical expenses, to say nothing of all the money lost by a drug manufacturer like Merck. At the BU case competition, the solution to patient recidivism wasn’t a spoonful of sugar but an app on your smartphone, an app that was, without fail, some kind of a game.

Bradley notes that the judges were not impressed by gamifying health care, as there is no guarantee that taking a pill can be fun, or that users can be trusted to enter accurate information, such as meals eaten or medication taken, into their smartphones. However, a clear winner finally emerged, touted by the Fortune editor as “startlingly different” and a “tangible solution to a real problem.”

A winner had to be announced by the end of day two, though I was growing weary and skeptical. How refreshing, then, when a team presented an idea startlingly different from all the others. It wasn’t a piece of software at all, but a backpack, filled with durable hardware (solar powered battery charger, lensless microscope, blood diagnostic tests, pulse oximeter) for collecting vital, and valuable, health data. The team was focused on collecting data from the developing world, where much of the population goes unrecorded, but the concept would work in the U.S., too, or anywhere else with people who have limited access to health services.

Read the full piece here.