A team of UNT Health Science Center MHA students has taken the top prize at this year’s American College of Healthcare Executives North Texas (ACHENTX) Case Competition.
Tasked with a real-world challenge, much like projects they will take on in their future careers as health care leaders, teams from UNTHSC and other North Texas universities went head to head on a case for “Humana’s Bold Goal: 20 Percent Healthier by 2020.”
The case focused on Humana’s plan to improve health in the communities it serves and make it easy for people to achieve their best health. Students were asked to develop and present a proposal for measuring the business performance and clinical progress along the way.
Members of the UNTHSC winning team were Crystal Bui, Liana Cherian, Monica Kovuri, Laci Sherman and Ela Vashishtha.
The team was coached by Paul Aslin, FACHE, Senior Vice President and Chief Population Officer with Wise Health System, who shared on LinkedIn, “For the second year in a row, I had the privilege of being the executive coach to the winning team of the North Texas ACHE Student Case Competition; for both years, the winners were from UNTHSC.”
Texas Institute for Surgery President David A Helfer FACHE, CMPE, ACC, BCC, who served as lead judge for the competition, was extremely complimentary of the students’ work.
“The initial written submission by UNTHSC’s winning team was exceptionally well crafted, organized and on point with the assignment. As such, they were selected to move on to the live presentation round,” he said.
“As they launched their presentation, it became clear that they had quickly learned how to work with one another, and both the content and delivery were nearly flawless. They were well prepared to answer the judges’ questions and even had back-up material that was not part of the main presentation, suggesting critical thinking and planning skills,” he said. “We understand that all the groups worked hard to reach the final round, but this team from UNTHSC stood out.”
The win has special significance for Ela Vashishtha, who has presented at three case competitions this year, regionally, statewide and nationally. In April, she was on the UNTHSC team that won for their “Transforming Galveston” proposal at the George McMillan Fleming Center for Healthcare Management’s annual student challenge event in Houston.
“This time, we were working on two case competitions at once; participating on a national level really helped improve our presentation skills and gave us a learning experience we could bring back to the North Texas competition,” she said. “The judges were impressed with the way we presented Humana’s Bold Goal in relation to a patient story. They also liked our approach, acting as consultants, and the way we developed proposal materials and business cards that visually aligned with Humana’s brand.”
This year, a second UNTHSC team was approved to join the North Texas competition as well, giving a group of first-year MHA students a chance to see how it works.
MHA Program Director Martin Ostensen, JD, MBA, MHA, called the opportunity “a great learning experience and a chance for the group to network with top-level health care executives from around the area.”
Members of the first-year team were Zachary Lueck, Aakshita Monga, Mark-David Onomeyovwe, Hector Rodriguez and Cassandra Umeh, coached by Bob Ellzey, FACHE, President of Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital Azle.
“As first-year students, our team gained an invaluable experience, allowing us to recognize our strengths and use them in a proactive fashion,” Rodriguez said. “We learned a few things about our individual shortcomings and how valuable it is to surround yourself with other people who are willing to help. Every single team member was a leader at one point or another throughout the process, and whoever had a stronger background on a topic would take the lead whenever we hit a roadblock.”
With diverse backgrounds, each person brought different skills and perspectives to the table.
“My background is in non-profit management and health care policy. Cassie worked in a clinic and also has one year of medical school under her belt. Mark-David has an economic background and is an Army veteran. Aakshita graduated from dental school in India, and Zach previously worked as a scribe and, most recently, in the HR department of a major architectural firm,” Rodriguez said.
In addition to drawing on the unique talents and ideas of teammates, the students in both groups also sought guidance from UNTHSC faculty and executive leadership. Some of the university’s resident experts included Steve Sosland, Executive Vice President/Chief People and Performance Officer; Dr. Thomas Fairchild, Vice President for Organizational Excellence; and Dr. Thomas W. Diller and Dr. Wonseok Choi, Associate Professors, Health Behavior and Health Systems.