MHA case competitors finish among top teams in Alabama

Penn State Master of Health Administration (MHA) students finished among the top six teams in the country squaring off in February at the annual Health Administration Case Competition hosted by the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB). The event attracted 29 teams of health management students.

This was Penn State’s second consecutive appearance in the finals of the case competition, one of only two universities in the nation to make a repeat visit. Penn State’s finish was top among all Big Ten programs and top among all Pennsylvania programs.

Team participants and second-year MHA students David Lutz, Caitlin Motley, and Kelsey Midgett were responsible for creating a governance structure, quality measurement system, and financial projections for the Memorial Hermann Healthcare System in Houston, Texas, which planned to create an Accountable Care Organization. First-year MHA student Shantanu Dholakia served as a team alternate participant. He will lead next year’s MHA case competition team.

MHA students

Master of Health Administration students who competed at the UAB case competition are (from left) Shantanu Dholakia (team alternate), Caitlin Motley, David Lutz, and Kelsey Midgett. The team was among the top six finishers out of the 29 schools competing in the event.

According to Midgett, “We used the model of a Physician Hospital Organization to more formally align the health system and affiliated physicians, to improve the continuum of care for Medicare patients.  We suggested expanding the model across all specialty physicians and third party payers of a period of time, also keeping a close eye on the changing legislation regarding ACOs.”

Judges lauded the Penn State team members during the first round of competition for their “good team dynamics, oral presentation skills, and solid overall recommendation,” Midgett explained, adding, “We learned a lot from preparing the case. This is information that will be very applicable to projects we will work on when we enter the workforce after graduation.”

The MHA team is grateful for the help from both faculty and alumni, including Dr. Deirdre McCaughey, Mr. Richard Shurgalla (who accompanied the team to Birmingham), Mr. Joe Dionisio, and Mr. Tom Charles. “We are also very thankful to external professionals, including some alumni who took the time to explain everything they knew about the new ACO model and current legislation regarding the topic.  Our success wouldn’t have been possible without their knowledge and insight on the topic,” said Midgett. Alumni who lent a helping hand to the team included Laura Schuh '09 MHA and Dominique LaRochelle '10 MHA.

Team Captain David Lutz was also grateful of HPA faculty guidance: “Working with faculty—namely our chief advisors, Dr. McCaughey, Mr. Shurgalla, and Mr. Dionisio, was a great experience as well. They made sure that we stayed on track, asked helpful questions that directed our efforts toward filling in gaps in strategy, and generally supported our efforts throughout the process.”