Students to Share Healthcare Delivery Insights, Experiences

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

BA685 students working with Ethio-American Doctors Group (EADG) in Ethiopia interview a physician.

Qin Dong said the healthcare delivery course she took this semester taught her a lot about practices inside and outside the United States, including how healthcare organizations harnessed different business models to scale up and meet patient needs.But the biggest lesson for Dong from the weeks of classroom learning and in-country work came down to empathizing with the customer.

“My takeaway is probably true for every consulting-like project: don’t make assumptions about what is best for the customers, listen to them, and cater to their needs,” she said. “Any recommendations that don’t fit with a customer’s situation won’t be helpful at all regardless how successful it was in the past.”

Dong’s Rwanda team was one of five that spread out around the globe for the BA685: Healthcare Delivery in Emerging Markets course taught by WDI President Paul Clyde. Other teams worked in Ethiopia, India, Peru and Sri Lanka. All five teams will present recaps of their projects at 5 p.m. on April 16 in Room R1240 at the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business. It is free and open to the public, and students in business, public health and other disciplines are encouraged to attend. A reception will follow.

Comprised mostly of MBA2 students, the course is designed to enhance participants’ international leadership capabilities, increase awareness of diverse business issues within the current global landscape, provide on-the-ground experience in a foreign country, and contribute to the success of partner health clinics and hospitals.

The course, organized and primarily funded by WDI with some financial support from Ross, responds to the increasing need for managers to have an international business perspective to augment their business and management knowledge. During the first part of the term, students learned about healthcare in emerging markets through lectures, guest speakers and case discussions. Students were then divided into five teams and prepared for visits to their selected country, traveling to those destinations in late February and early March.

The travel-study course empowers students to integrate what they learned in the classroom with hands-on experience. But unlike the Ross School Multidisciplinary Action Projects (MAP), Dong said the healthcare delivery course “exposes us to an environment where sponsors and other stakeholders have little business knowledge and no clear expectations about the projects.

“This can increase the difficulty and scope of the projects. However, it mimics real-life situations for the most part,” she said.

Clyde said the course is “business education at its best” – a collaborative learning environment with faculty and students learning from each other in an action-based learning setting.

“This course allows me to have detailed conversations with the students about some of the newer approaches to healthcare in low- and middle-income countries, and then gives them the chance to experience some of those markets in person and develop some of these new methods in concert with the institution,” Clyde said. “No matter how much I discuss it in class, there is no way to convey all of the challenges and opportunities in these markets without having the students actually visit the locations.”

Jennie Proto Gondhi, who was part of the Sri Lanka team, said she was attracted to the class to learn about the business perspective of healthcare and how business models can help solve public health problems. In pursuing a dual master’s in public health in epidemiology as well as health education/health behavior, Proto Gondhi said her classes dig deeply into evidence-based programs and validating data.

“However, I think sometimes a missing piece to public health problem solving is the idea that revenue, marketing and market value keeps programming going,” Proto Gondhi said.

She said the course showed her how valuable it is for people with public health and business skill sets to work in tandem to make a program successful.

“I enjoyed working and deliberating with teammates with varied expertise,” she said. “As we get ready to prepare our final reports and presentations, I walk away with the idea that public health programming can only be enhanced with further collaboration.”

Ross MBA student Kevin Jones, who worked with his team in Peru, called the course “probably the best interdisciplinary experience I’ve had at U-M.

“It integrates communities from the business, public health, policy and medical schools who have different but relevant perspectives on how to approach problems,” he said.

The Peru team worked with the Peruvian American Medical Society, a first-time partner for the course. The other institutions – Ethio-American Doctors Group (Ethiopia), LiveWell (India), Ruli District Hospital (Rwanda) and Grace Care Center (Sri Lanka) – have participated in the course multiple times, which allows Ross and WDI to build deep relationships and trust. Repeat partners also provides WDI with insights on what has and hasn’t worked with each institution, and that information is brought to bear in each project.


Here is a summary of each partner and project.


TEAM: Ethio-American Doctors Group (EADG)

LOCATION: Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

BACKGROUND: The Ethio-American Doctors Group is comprised of over 250 U.S. physicians of Ethiopian descent who have committed time and money to establish a state-of-the-art tertiary care hospital in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

PROJECT FOCUS: Develop a business model for a program to train nurses to international standards.  


TEAM: Grace Care Center (GCC)

LOCATION: Trincomalee & Colombo, Sri Lanka

BACKGROUND: There is an extreme shortage of physicians in Sri Lanka and the number of people needing diabetes treatment is growing, making the shortage more acute. A GCC project looks into adding a  new category of healthcare providers – diabetes technicians – to address the need.

PROJECT FOCUS: Assess the viability of a diabetic technician training program and undertake a market analysis to develop an understanding of the potential demand for such skills from existing physicians.


TEAM: LiveWell

LOCATION: Hyderabad, India

BACKGROUND: LiveWell Rehab Center in Madurai, India has been in operation since 2011. In October 2017, LiveWell began operations in Hyderabad.   

PROJECT FOCUS: Examine the internal processes of the Hyderabad center compared to the Madurai facility to look for improvements.


TEAM: Peruvian American Medical Society (PAMS)

LOCATION: Chincha, Peru

BACKGROUND: PAMS Policlinico is a clinic offering multiple services, but is looking to become a center of excellence in ophthalmic surgery and gastroenterology.

PROJECT FOCUS: Conduct a market analysis to assess the profitability of a center of excellence in ophthalmic surgery and gastroenterology.


TEAM: Ruli District Hospital

LOCATION: Ruli, Rwanda

BACKGROUND: Ruli District Hospital, about two hours from Kigali, has worked with WDI for seven years and many of the projects are seeing fruit now.

PROJECT FOCUS: Study the revenue generating opportunities of a private clinic within the hospital.


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