Pinar Karaca-Mandic

Carlson School's MILI Named an Innovation that Inspires

Wednesday, April 10, 2019


Healthcare is a topic that touches the lives of every person in the United States, and it's a sector that makes up nearly one-fifth the nation's economy. So when organizations can pioneer new research, develop new programs that improve lives, or assist in advancing new technologies, the impact can be felt by everyone.

That's why the Carlson School of Management's standout healthcare industry program, the Medical Industry Leadership Institute (MILI), was recognized by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business AACSB) as a 2019 Innovations that Inspire award winner.

“The work done at MILI inspires us every day,” says Associate Professor Pinar Karaca-Mandic, Academic Director of the Medical Industry Leadership Institute. “It’s such an honor to have that work validated by AACSB as something that inspires others as well.”

Connecting Cutting-Edge Research and Industry Leaders

From its location in the Twin Cities, the Carlson School is perfectly positioned to provide an unparalleled opportunity: courses developed in concert with Minnesota’s thriving medical device, insurance, and healthcare delivery sector; hands-on evaluation of today’s emerging technologies, and cutting-edge research into tomorrow’s innovations -- all under the purview of brilliant faculty who have worked in every facet of the industry.

In addition to course offerings for undergraduates, MILI's educational programming for students and the medical industry community includes its signature annual conference CONVENE, a forum that brings together industry and academia to explore the intersection of healthcare and data science.

“I am continuously impressed by the community that MILI has created, with its current students, affiliate group of over 500 members, and engaged industry partners,” says MILI Managing Director Jessica Haupt. “The many connections that have been formed though this community will last a lifetime.”

A New Approach to New Ventures

Many breakthrough ideas come from innovators or small medical startups that don’t have the ability--or cash--to evaluate their product or its viability in the market. Through MILI’s Medical Industry Valuation Laboratory, about 30 projects each year receive a full analysis by a team of students and their instructor that involves multiple stages, from assumptions to validations, verifications, challenges, and proposed solutions.

After several weeks of inquiry, the students present their evaluation and recommendations to the client--providing value to the industry while training students how to participate in technology development in consultantative roles.

“During the interview process for summer internships in the coming months, I came to realize how much this experience set me apart from students in other MBA programs,” say Elisha Friesema (‘18 MBA). “I was explicitly told by one company that no other candidates were completing projects like the Valuation Lab this early in their MBA educations.”

Making the Case for Industry-Specific Education

MILI also provides students the opportunity to tackle some of the world’s toughest challenges. That’s what Friesema, Prachi Bawaskar (‘18 MS, MBA), and Stephen Palmquist (‘19, MD/MBA) did when they developed a solution to the opioid crisis for a case competition.

Most proposed solutions to this public health issue try to stop it from the provider side: limiting prescriptions, detecting and confiscating illicit supplies, and medically treating those with active opioid-use disorders. On the other hand, there are relatively few solutions that address the demand side of the equation.

Friesema, Bawaskar, and Palmquist studied other social epidemics to find a new approach. What emerged was CEASE (Community Empowerment to Address the Substance-use Epidemic), which was modeled after Cure Violence, a Chicago-based program to tackle gun violence.

“Critical to the Cure Violence model was addressing violence as an epidemic disease, meaning that the problem transmits and spreads based on exposure,” says Palmquist. “Our model applies a similar logic to the opioid crisis based on the prevailing public health understanding that exposure to opioids increases a person’s risk of using and abusing opioids.”

The project was recognized by the Business School Alliance for Health Management’s Case Competition and submitted to the Surgeon General and White House. It’s also been presented to MILI’s National Industry Council and Executives in Residence, and participated in the Minnesota Department of Health and Human Services’ Healthcare Startup Day Minnesota, which hosted a diverse group of healthcare organizations.