Health Data Competition Promotes Cross-campus Collaboration
Thursday, April 6, 2023
Collaboration reigned supreme at the fourth annual Interdisciplinary Health Data Competition, where a trio of students from three different schools at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities took home the grand prize—despite having never met before starting the challenge.
“It was a really good collaboration by us that meant meeting after working hours, dividing up the work to meet the deadline, and also finding some inspiration,” describes Shaquib Al Hasan, '24 PhD (Social and Administrative Pharmacy graduate program, College of Pharmacy), who led the first-place team.
Their winning combination highlighted the collaborative spirit of the event, which requires teams to include students from at least two different colleges at the University. This year, 74 graduate or professional degree-seeking students representing 13 different schools across the Twin Cities campus took on the challenge.
The competition focused on a dataset from MN Community Measurement, a nonprofit centered on healthcare quality metrics and data from all Minnesota providers and health plans. Students had 10 days to complete their analysis and submit a video presentation for review.
On Wednesday, four finalist teams presented their findings in front of a panel of data analysis experts. The judges awarded the shared top prize of $4,000 to Hasan, Quincy Gu, '23 PhD, (Bioinformatics and Computational Biology, College of Science and Engineering), and Courtney Larson Cernohous, '24 PTMBA (Carlson School of Management). Their winning presentation highlighted disparities in diabetes care ratings based on clinic area characteristics. For example, they found the diabetes care ratings of clinics based in rural areas tended to lag behind urban clinics.
Julie Sonier, president and CEO of MN Community Measurement, served as one of the final judges. She says the students revealed regional insights that the nonprofit could explore more deeply in the future.
“Understanding where population needs are is really important and it’s not something we have had the ability to focus on in the past,” reflects Sonier. “This has given me interesting ideas for directions where our work might head.”
The Interdisciplinary Health Data Competition started in 2020 and is led by the Business Advancement Center for Health (BACH) in collaboration with the Carlson School of Management, College of Pharmacy, Institute for Health Informatics, Medical School, School of Dentistry, School of Nursing, and School of Public Health.
"This competition upholds BACH's emphasis on the need to always look for intersections across disciplines to identify and solve the most challenging problems in addressing healthcare quality and health equity," shares Professor Pinar Karaca-Mandic, the founding director of BACH and the C. Arthur Williams Jr. Professor in Healthcare Risk Management.
Sponsors for this year’s competition included the United Health Foundation, University of Minnesota Office of Academic Clinical Affairs, University of Minnesota Research Computing, and Minnesota Council of Health Plans.