The Business of Medicine
|Pictured here with former U.S. Surgeon General C. Everett Koop, MD, are OpenMic.Health team members (back row,
from left) Sam Haywood (FSM), Andrew Ambrosy (FSM), John Kubasiak (FSM), Peter Siu (Kellogg), Michael Gibbs (FSM), (front row, from left) Yaw Nyame (FSM), and Eduardo Montes (Kellogg). Photo Â© Nathan Mandell
Reading The Wall Street Journal every day ranks right up there with medical texts for five Feinberg School students who were part of a group that won second place and a prize of $1,000 in a recent case competition at Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management. The team will present their winning project at the annual College of Chest Physicians meeting to be held in October in Philadelphia.
John Kubasiak, Michael Gibbs, Sam Haywood, Andrew Ambrosy, and Yaw Nyame—all second-year students—developed a strategic business plan to help community organizations address asthma symptom education and intervention in Chicago’s poorer communities. Kellogg students Peter Siu and Eduardo Montes were part of the group also.
The Feinberg students got wind of the competition when four of them enrolled in a health industry management class at Kellogg. Instructor Joel Shalowitz, MD, MBA, and a member of both the Feinberg and Kellogg faculties, encouraged the students to form a group and enter.
“I believe that the best ideas come from interdisciplinary teams,” said Dr. Shalowitz. “The competition was the opportunity for Feinberg and Kellogg students to share ideas and offer creative solutions that combined knowledge about the delivery of medical care and principles of social marketing.”
The group spent several months developing their plan by talking to parents, children, and health care professionals in the underserved communities to determine general health and asthma literacy. “Health resources were available but not well utilized,” said Haywood of Knoxville, Tennessee. “The population has so much else to worry about that asthma intervention is a low priority.” Distrust of physicians is also a part of the problem. “The only trusted source is the community—the pastors, parents, and friends,” added Nyame of Edmond, Oklahoma. “The name of our group, OpenMic.Health, came from this realization—let people in the community talk to their own.”
The plan calls for the development of a YouTube-like presentation in DVD form. Using the format of today’s most popular videos, the content will focus on community role models talking about asthma—either how they deal with it or how others can. “Cool, hip, young, fresh,” says Nyame. “If you package things correctly, people will buy into it.” The DVD would then be played in clinic waiting rooms, local pharmacies, or even churches to educate the community.
Team leader Ambrosy of Clifton Park, New York, notes that the group has met with community organizers to discuss the implementation and financial support of their winning idea.
Chicago is one of the U.S. cities with the highest asthma mortality and greatest disparities, according to the case competition background information. Despite efforts over the past decade to increase asthma awareness and education, asthma symptom management in Chicago remains a problem.
The contest was sponsored by the CHEST Foundation, the philanthropic arm of the American College of Chest Physicians, and various clubs and programs of the Kellogg School of Management. Open to all current graduate school students at Northwestern University and the University of Chicago, the competition guidelines required that at least one business school student from either institution be on each team. Former U.S. Surgeon General C. Everett Koop, MD, served as one of the judges.