In line with the school’s drive to prepare students for the challenges their future industry of choice will pose, the MSc in Health Management & Data Intelligence has been exploring the current state of the public health industry. In these pandemic-affected times, innovative uses of health technologies and practices are needed more than ever. Students have been working on hands-on use cases designed to bring practicable solutions to a real problem – improving the healthcare delivery system as effectively and equitably as possible.

“Working on recommendations with the students has given me a golden opportunity to tap into the fresh perspective of the younger generation, as well as approaching the issue of healthcare and innovation from a more business angle, begins Louisa Stüwe, head of the recent Innovation & Public Health course delivered at emlyon business school. As a visiting lecturer at Sciences Po Paris for many years and currently a part of the Ministerial eHealth delegation at the French Ministry of Health, Louisa is well placed to share her knowledge of different healthcare actors. “COVID-19 has accelerated digital transformation, raising the need to ensure its continuous funding and underpin this development with strong ethics. All the more reason to get emlyon students on this issue, bringing their more privately oriented viewpoint on a major challenge faced by policymakers and involving all healthcare system actors.

A wealth of knowledge from new learning formats

Via intensive individual and group work, case study analysis, presentations and a final exam, participating students had to identify obstacles to effective delivery of innovative healthcare solutions and provide recommendations to streamline the system. In parallel to the course, they were invited to take part in the January 2022 AI4Health Winter School conference organized by the Health Data Hub, the French public data platform, where they discovered the current digital healthcare and innovation trends. For student Marylinne Lima, this wealth of knowledge and materials was a challenge and an opportunity: “I was pleasantly surprised by the unity of European leaders in ensuring ethical deployment of digitalization in healthcare and active participation of their citizens. The AI4Health Winter School was like a new world of terminologies which made it challenging to comprehend the course”.

In line with the school’s drive to prepare students for the challenges their future industry of choice will pose, emlyon’s MSc in Health Management & Data Intelligence has been exploring the current state of the public health industry.

Insights beyond expectations

The course itself and the industry experience and knowledge brought by Louisa were key in opening students’ eyes to the full scale of the problem – including the obstacles provided by over-regulation, complex organizations, lack of funding and ethical issues on the use and reuse of health data by patients but also for research and innovation. As student Uzma Fariya remarks, the experience provided insights beyond everyone’s expectations: “when we talk about the digital transformation of healthcare we tend to think more about organizational changes or steps taken by the private companies. However, this course fed my curiosity to understand how innovation can be brought about on a large scale where all the citizens of a country are involved and how a balance can be maintained between the interests of the people, innovators, policy makers, researchers, and other stakeholders”.

The business background of the students, their technical understanding, and the role the State has to play in meeting the innovation-healthcare challenge are key to the goals of the program, as underlined by its Director, Florencio Travieso: “among our objectives are to show students how the program associates with partners and to interact both with the industry and public administration so as to raise awareness of the specificities of the healthcare industry. From a business and technical point of view”.

Professional and professionalizing

Key to the Master of Science (and emlyon business school’s entire program portfolio) is to expose students to real-life challenges and have them work on recommendations that could realistically be of use to policymakers and professionals operating in the field. Inspired by Louisa Stüwe, the students drew up a 10-point plan for streamlining the way in which innovation could be better incorporated into public health systems and made more available, different in low-, middle- and high-income countries of different income levels, to the benefit of those working in healthcare and those in need of it. Some of these recommendations could feature in a forthcoming academic paper or commentary written by the students under Louisa’s guidance.

From a learning perspective the main objectives are clear in Louisa’s mind: “I had the chance to work with business students from different educational and geographical backgrounds. I wanted to bring them out of their comfort zone and have them work on professional and professionalizing solutions”. From the student perspective, mission accomplished based upon the experience of student Nidhi Bhatnagar: “I have been practicing public health for a decade in my country. However, the concepts shared in classes were very new and enriching. It has given me a new direction to practice preventive medicine at population level. I aim to work further on establishing frameworks for big data management in the emerging economies of the world”. And from an academic perspective, another resounding example of the need for and the interests of students in obtaining multiple angles on a situation they will soon meet within the industry, be it private or public. For the good health of all.