Design in Health takes 1st and 2nd place in McCombs Healthcare Case Competition

Two teams from the M.A. in Design focused on Health program placed 1st and 2nd in the McCombs Annual Health Innovation Case Competition, hosted by McCombs Health Innovation Fellows and the MBA Healthcare Association. Teams were given 7 days to read a case prompt and response. The case tackled the permissibility of allowing a merger between two rural hospital systems operating in northeast Tennessee and southwest Virginia that would result in a regional monopoly. Teams allowing the merger would need to explain what stipulations would be put into place to ensure the benefits to the community outweigh the possible costs of granting a monopoly. Teams against the merger would need to suggest alternative methods to improve the financial, clinical, and social health of the region.

Read more about each team's work below.

1st Place: Scheme Team

the five members of Scheme Team outside the McCombs graduate school building at UT Austin

From left to right: 

Nikhil Mahadevan | MA Candidate

Nina Lemieux | MD/MA Candidate

Daphne Hancock, MPH | MD/MA

Candidate Emily Yan, M.S. | MD/MA Candidate

Derek Yan | MD/MBA Candidate

Imagine, you've just been teleported to Wise, Virginia
A crowd of people waiting in line to get into a pop-up clinic. It is dark outside, and most of them are wearing hoodies or blankets to keep warm.
many volunteers in blue, red, and green shirts sitting at tables in an open barn operating as a clinic.
How might we offer the best means to improve the financial, clinical, and social health of the region?
Hand-drawn characters representing four community members. From left to right: a young man with stethoscope, a young woman, an older man with a mustache, and an older woman with hoop earrings.
Fig 2. Hand-drawn characters from SW Virginia | Community members from a range of health care professions & newly-trained, previously unemployed community members ("Dave & Denise" first and second from the R) who now have fulfilling careers serving those they care about most.

The Scheme Team engaged the judges through a storytelling hook. They framed their opportunity via a “How might we…” statement and introduced a few trusted, friendly faces representing the residents of southwest Virginia’s rural coal-mining towns (notably "Dave & Denise" on the far right).

With inspiration from their Sketchnoting class with Verena Paepke-Hjeltness, the team challenged traditional "professional" PowerPoint presentations and instead leaned into their creativity with hand-drawn visuals.

Hand-drawn visuals related to health, including: a blood sugar reader, lungs, a speech bubble with medicines in it, a syringe, and a man confused about how to get to the hospital
Fig 3. More illustrations sprinkled throughout  | The Scheme Team leaned into hand-drawn elements to communicate the breadth of their proposed services. 


The team also created custom graphics depicting the region in Adobe Illustrator using skills from their Introduction to Graphic Design Course and Adobe Stock. They utilized these graphics in a visual demonstration of how their approach to the case would affect Dickenson county, the county with the lowest population in the targeted region.

Knowing their solution needed to be financially viable, they worked together to source information about workforce availability, average wages, reimbursements for certain procedures and visits, rates of service utilization, and more to financially model their final proposal. 

Ultimately, the judges praised the Scheme Team for their thorough research into the region they wanted to serve and for proposing a solution that empowered community members to champion preventative health in a financially sustainable way.

2nd Place: Health Justice League

The four members of the Health Justice League, who took 2nd place in the McCombs Case Competition at UT Austin

From left to right:

Adan Tijerina | MD/MA Candidate

Ashlyn Anthony | MA Candidate

Krezia Anne Savella| MA Candidate

Lana Schommer | MD/MA Candidate

The Health Justice League began by working visually to make sense of the key components of the case. They followed a similar process to ideate solutions for the region, keeping the spirit of the people of the region at the forefront of their decision making and presentation. Their multifaceted solution revolved around the idea that rural residents deserve to have health services integrated in their homes and communities.

Screenshots of MIRO board depicting the research phase of Health Justice League's case study
text reads We are proud... we don't want handouts... but we want to be able to take care of ourselves. Gilda Mountcastle, 54, Lee County
Graphic with heading Home is where the Health is. Below are three bubbles with drawings representing three possibilities: Hospital at Home, Mobile Health Clinics, and Mobile Farmers Market.

Congratulations to all the winners!

Friendly photo of all the first, second, and third place winners from the McCombs Case Competition at UT Austin.