Students Identify AI and Data-Driven Solutions to Drive Sustainable Hospital Policies and Address Future Public Health Threats


On 9 February, a cohort of 59 MBA students from Asia School of Business (ASB), a collaboration between the MIT Sloan School of Management and Malaysia’s central bank (Bank Negara Malaysia), participated in an innovative climate change and healthcare-focused hackathon in Dubai, UAE to develop solutions to real-world problems faced by the healthcare industry. The event was jointly organized with VPS Healthcare, one of the leading integrated healthcare providers in the UAE region with 24 operational hospitals and over 125 healthcare centres.

The half-day hackathon saw students proposing several innovative ‘hacks’ to identify and proposed sustainable solutions for mission-driven healthcare groups like VPS Healthcare.

With the purpose of impacting the health of patients and the communities they live in, students identified solutions that included AI-based predictive analytics combining patient data with meteorological data and other historical data to inform capacity planning. Another solution focused on a real-time carbon tracking dashboard using procurement and planning data to simulate the impact of a new project or policy.

As part of ASB’s immersive and application-based MBA experience, students learned about Dubai’s healthcare industry through applying problem-solving approaches and frameworks gained during their MBA to address a pressing real-world challenge faced by healthcare groups all over the world – climate change.

In carrying out its healing mission, the healthcare sector needs to factor in challenges that will become increasingly hard to ignore, including increased fatalities and injuries due to extreme weather events and a rise in chronic health conditions like asthma, infectious diseases, and mental illness.

“The partnership between VPS Healthcare and Asia School of Business represents our commitment towards addressing what experts are calling one of the greatest public health threats of our time,” said Dr. Shamsheer Vayalil, Founder and Chairman of VPS Healthcare. “We believe it will take collective effort globally to mitigate and address the climate risks we face today.”

The students ideated and presented solutions for how VPS Healthcare can include climate-informed assessments into healthcare decision-making and health policies to meet the needs of patients today and in the future.

The students, hailing from 19 different countries, had the opportunity to immerse themselves in the city of Dubai as part of a weeklong Dubai trek that included visiting the Dubai World Expo and interactions with corporate partners to understand how Dubai has transformed itself from its reliance on oil, which used to account for 50 percent of GDP, into a global trade and tourism destination with over 95 percent of GDP coming from non-oil industries including healthcare and medical tourism.

“As an industry leader within a region that is rapidly ascending to global prominence, VPS Healthcare wants to be front and center in finding solutions for the challenges posed by climate change and believe that the solutions presented by the students will help us formulate climate change–driven procedures and integrate them into policies with a sense of urgency”, added Dr. Vayalil.

“We’re extremely grateful to be able to partner with a world-class company like VPS Healthcare to address such an important challenge while providing our students with a rich, international learning experience, especially during these volatile pandemic times. We look forward to continuing our partnership with VPS Healthcare. We are committed to expanding ASB’s presence in the Middle East and broadening our impact to other parts of the emerging world,” said Dr. Sean O. Ferguson, Senior Associate Dean at Asia School of Business.

“Additionally, this experience bolsters our students with the exposure to design similar solutions in their respective home countries, especially in our home base of Southeast Asia. Global, immersive learning experiences are a crucial component of what makes our MBA experience so distinctive, with a curriculum that includes five Action Learning projects in real-world companies, international treks (including in countries such as the UAE and China in previous years), and a month long stint at MIT Sloan in Cambridge, ‎Massachusetts‎,” Dr. Ferguson added.

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