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Students from across country compete with strategy to treat diabetes in Ohio State case competition

The case competition is run by a group of health administration master’s students who have been planning the event since May 2017. Back row: Thomas Baldauf, Lizzy Johnsen, Alaina Lotozo, Stefany Mayhew, Amanda Stopek. Front row: Reed Franklin, Sarah Ryan, Jahnna Lydic, Esther Olsen, Sara Butauski. Credit: Rupa Mehta

Teams from across the country showed up at the Ohio Union Friday to take part in a competition for a cause: to better America’s healthcare.

Ohio State hosted the 7th annual First-Year Healthcare Case Competition with teams from 20 colleges presenting strategies to address how diabetes is handled in the healthcare system.

Run by students in Ohio State’s master’s of health administration program this year, for the first time, teams were given a real-life situation to work with from the competition’s sponsor, the Wexner Medical Center.

“We thought, why not give the teams a current medical problem that Wexner Medical Center is facing and they will basically get 24 ideas for how to handle it,” said Lizzy Johnsen, the committee chair.

Each team was given 15 minutes to present their strategy for diabetes treatment followed by a questioning period by a panel of judges. All of the teams presented in the morning and the six best groups moved on to the final round in the afternoon. Finalists were judged by four medical professionals who ranked each group based on organization, viability, and how they answered questions.

Julie Robbins, director of the health administration master’s program at Ohio State, said she was excited to see students from many different colleges coming together to use what they have learned in the classroom and apply it to a real-life issue.

All of the teams presented in the morning and the six best groups moved on to the final round in the afternoon. These finalists were judged by four medical professionals who ranked each group based on organization, viability, and how they answered questions. Credit: Lydia Gingerich 

“These students have spent the year learning about the healthcare system, finance, strategy, and research analytic skills, so this gives them a chance to put it all together,” Robbins said. “The other thing that it helps them really pull together is teamwork skills and presentation skills.”

Teams came up with creative solutions to treat diabetes ranging from prevention strategies to peer-mentoring programs. When the judges asked groups questions, they challenged the participants to think about how their strategies would play out in underserved populations, or what sort of incentives they would use to make sure patients would show up for care.

Diabetes is an issue that affects about 30 million Americans. While this is a wide-ranging and diverse issue, teams were asked to focus on how the Wexner Medical Center could enhance their current diabetes care by creating a center of excellence for the condition.

As one of the few case competitions targeted to first-year students, Johnsen said this event provides a unique opportunity to students who are just starting in their degrees. That’s one of the reasons for the event’s success and growth, she said. Another reason is the organization of previous Ohio State students who have put the event together.

“Being professional and polished and well-run and well-executed makes people want to come back and feel like it’s worth their while to really spend four weeks working on something you are not getting paid for,” Johnsen said.

The top team from the University of Michigan was awarded an $1,800 prize. A team from Ohio State finished second following by Rush University that won third place.

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