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Aug 22, 2022 2022-08 Accountancy Business Administration Faculty Finance

Conference explores solutions for biggest healthcare challenges

Academic researchers and healthcare practitioners convened to explore using technology to improve healthcare delivery to diverse populations at the second Midwest Healthcare Management Conference held on August 12, 2022, at the i-Hotel and Conference Center in Champaign.

The event was co-sponsored by Gies College of Business and the Carle Illinois College of Medicine. The event was jointly inaugurated by Mark Cohen, M.D., Dean of the Carle Illinois College of Medicine; Mark Peecher, Deloitte Professor of Accountancy and Executive Associate Dean of Faculty and Research at Gies; and Professor Stephen Boppart, Professor and Grainger Distinguished Chair in Engineering, Executive Associate Dean and Chief Diversity Officer, Carle Illinois College of Medicine. Dean Cohen stressed on the need for augmented reality-based technology for next-generation healthcare. Dean Peecher stressed on the need for a collaborative approach to delivering healthcare to a diverse population. Professor Stephen Boppart highlighted the role of technology intervention in creating solutions that can improve the access and affordability of healthcare to underserved communities.

To set the direction, Professor Sridhar Seshadri, Alan J., and Joyce D. Baltz Endowed Professor and Area Chair, Information Systems/Operations Management/Supply Chain/Analytics, Gies College of Business said, “So far, healthcare research and practice have been driven by disparate fields such as clinical sciences, economics, policy, engineers, and operations research in silos. Time has come to integrate the different perspectives in a synergistic manner to address the immense challenges that today’s healthcare delivery is facing.”   

“This is a tremendous forum in which we can bring together researchers from leading universities with practitioners to understand and improve clinical practice,” said Gies Assistant Professor Ujjal Mukherjee. “Together, we believe we can address the many challenges the healthcare industry faces.”

The topics of discussion included the use of telemedicine to improve access and affordability of preventative and primary care; the impact of COVID-19 on healthcare delivery to underserved communities; patient engagement and early detection of serious health conditions using technology, AI, and data analytics, and the role of community health workers (CHWs) and citizen entrepreneurs in building awareness and creating access to healthcare for the underserved and under insured population.

Ron Watkins, Associate Vice President of Strategic Initiatives at the University of Illinois System and Clinical Professor at Gies Business, shared lessons learned from creating a quick, inexpensive way to test for COVID-19 across University of Illinois’ three campuses that has expanded to become SHIELD Illinois, a testing program across the state. He also addressed the importance of partnerships with schools and businesses when building a centralized statewide network for testing COVID-19 variants or other contagions and pandemics.

“We took this amazing asset – this test – that was developed at the University of Illinois by a group of incredible scientists, and we took it to market,” Watkins said. “As a university, we typically create intellectual property and then disseminate it, but in this case, we also operationalized it. Within six months, we became the largest healthcare provider in the state of Illinois, and within 12 months, we had run more than six million tests.”

Phillip Rowell from the Carle Illinois College of Medicine looked ahead to the next generation suite of augmented reality and artificial intelligence products and services in healthcare. He advocated for a comprehensive approach to driving usage and adoption of AI throughout the healthcare system to build trust and confidence with clinical and operational stakeholders.

Other topics included:

  • Roopa Foulger from OSF Healthcare spoke about how OSF is using simple technology to make it easier to identify, monitor, and close gaps for patients with social and clinical risks. She highlighted case examples of improving access and affordability of healthcare using data analytics and machine learning.
  • Mitch Higashi and Gustavo Stolovitzky of Sema4, a health intelligence company, presented a framework to assess the clinical and economic value of artificial intelligence and machine learning solutions and discussed the levels of evidence needed to support regulatory standards.
  • Christie Clinic’s Collin Roloff and CareSignal’s Erika Halsey explored the key considerations when implementing a remote patient monitoring program. Christie Clinic is collaborating with Professor Ujjal Mukherjee from Gies College of Business, UIUC, and Professor Dilip Chhajed from Purdue University, Krannert School of Management to analyze the effectiveness and efficacy of primary care for chronic disease patients.
  • Carle Foundation Hospital’s Sr. VP and Chief Nursing Executive, Elizabeth Angelo looked at the impact of nursing shortages on patient care and the opportunities to collaborate with other industries to respond.
  • Carle Illinois’ Ruby Mendenhall and University of Wisconsin research intern Bridget White shared findings from a new project that addresses the health and wellness of Black and Latinx high school students and young adults in Chicago.
  • Carle Illinois medical students Annabelle Shaffer, Bara Saadah, and Michelle Mao discussed “who uses a free clinic and why?” drawing upon their research at the Avicenna Community Health Center in Champaign.
  • University of Michigan’s Ted London explored how to create impact at scale for the health of rural and remote communities.
  • Claro Healthcare’s Lee Kuhn discussed the challenges large health systems have in understanding how to improve the risk profiles within their local populations.
  • Additionally, there were 12 posters that were presented by students and researchers on different topics. Three judges Professor Girish Krishnan from Grainger College of Business, Professor Gopesh Anand from Gies College of Business, and Professor Paola Martin from Kelley School of Business, Indiana University evaluated the posters and selected three top posters for awards.Professor Sebastian Souyris from rensselaer polytechnic institute, Troy, NY coordinated the poster presentation and judging.

To close the conference, the panelists discussed the challenges and opportunities for social healthcare. The panel comprised Diwakar Gupta, Professor of Information, Risk and Operations Management, McCombs School of Business, The University of Texas at Austin; J. George Shanthikumar, Richard E. Dauch Chair of Manufacturing and Operations Management and Distinguished Professor of Management, Krannert School of Management, Purdue University;  Kingshuk K. Sinha, Professor, Department Chair and Elmer L. Andersen Chair in Sustainable Supply Chain, Supply Chain and Operations, Carson School of Management, University of Minnesota; Professor Nolan Miller, Daniel and Cynthia Mah Helle Professor of Finance, Gies College of Business; and Professor Stephen Boppart. Some of the topics highlighted during the panel discussions were behavioral healthcare, technology intervention for improving access to healthcare, and building entrepreneurship in healthcare delivery to underserved communities to attain scale.

Professor Amy Wagoner Johnson, Head, Department of Biomedical and Translational Sciences, Carle Illinois College of Medicine; and Professor Carlos Torelli, Department Head and Professor of Business Administration and Zimmerman Faculty Fellow, Gies College of Business delivered the closing remarks, and both stressed on the urgent need to establish a closer multidisciplinary approach to solving healthcare problems. Ujjal Mukherjee closed the conference with a note on the next steps which include follow-up research project identification with the participating organizations and creating a structure for industry-academia collaboration in the context of healthcare.