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Nearly a year before his spring 2015 course began, professor Dan Adelman queried medical directors at Chicago-area hospitals to put forward their most pressing, most intractable issues—real-world problems for his MBA student teams to solve. These four challenges, from three institutions sharing unprecedented access to their data (normally a top-secret strategic asset), formed the foundation of last year’s Healthcare Analytics Laboratory:

University of Chicago Medicine (UCM) wanted to evaluate a brand-new intervention—then in practice for only a few months—designed to reduce heart-failure readmissions within 30 days. Were patients leaving the hospital healthier? Was it saving money? And if it was working, could it be expanded across the hospital?

UCM also sought to optimize the case mix in its vascular-surgery practice. What kinds of procedures should be their focus and specializations? How should the doctors grow their practices? What skill sets should they invest in or hire for?

Rush University Medical Center was looking to understand how the uninsured population utilizes health-care resources. Many show up in the emergency room not wanting to give their real names and addresses. Could the hospital synthesize records or histories of patients without identifying them?

Presence Health wished to assess the impact of a bundled payment incentive on its orthopedic surgeons. Medicare had recently qualified the hospital to receive these lump sums for treating all the patient’s needs, rather than the previous piecemeal billing regimen. What were the pros and cons of the doctors’ response to the new plan?

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