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UH’s Bauer College Launches Healthcare Business Institute Aimed at Collaborative Solutions

The convergence of technological advances, policy imperatives and the disruption brought about by the pandemic has underscored the need for healthcare business research in an industry already faced with significant quality, cost and access concerns.

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Addressing those complex issues is the overriding mission of the Healthcare Business Institute (HBI) launched by the C. T. Bauer College of Business at the University of Houston. HBI will bring together UH researchers, hospital system administrators, device-makers, supply chain managers and other key members of the healthcare ecosystem for collaborative opportunities and innovation.

“Technology, data, and AI are enabling unprecedented advances in medicine, and Houston’s impressive healthcare network presents an exciting opportunity for a Healthcare Business Institute,” said Bauer College Dean and Cullen Distinguished Chair Professor Paul A. Pavlou.

“Not only is Houston home to the Texas Medical Center, UH is the only university in Houston that includes a large number of healthcare researchers at the Bauer College of Business, a world-ranked health law program at the UH Law Center, a computer science department with many distinguished research faculty, and a new College of Medicine,” he added. “The opportunity for meaningful collaboration among healthcare researchers, industry leaders, and students through HBI will be a tremendous asset for Houston with the potential for local, national and global impact.”

HBI is led by Research Director and Professor of Healthcare Strategy and Technology Ravi Aron of the Bauer College Department of Decision & Information Sciences and Dr. Edward Kroger, the administrative director of the center.

“The healthcare industry’s massive size (nearly 20% of the GDP) and excessive costs create equally enormous challenges for all sectors of the industry,” Aron said.

“Providers are facing increasingly limited reimbursement from the U.S. government, insurers and employers. The industry is, therefore, struggling with finding new ways to increase value by improving quality and decreasing cost,” added Aron. “This is complicated by the fact that the industry is the most heavily regulated in the country. While policy, regulations and the government all have roles to play, efficient care delivery also requires businesses – small, medium, large and startups - to play a significant role in delivering effective and efficient care.”

HBI will bring stakeholders together to exchange ideas and explore emerging solutions, Aron said.

“This unique combination of researchers, educationists and students will also benefit by connecting to perhaps the world’s most diversified healthcare ecosystem,” he said.

Healthcare research needs are being driven by a number of trends, Aron said:

  • Availability of large data sets – consisting of both structured data and digitizable unstructured data.
  • Advances in tracking and transmission technologies – such as sensor-enabled devices connected through the Internet of Things – that are redefining operations across the healthcare ecosystem.
  • Advances in artificial intelligence allowing decision-makers to combine sophisticated machine learning-based prediction models with traditional statistical analysis.
  • Emergence of new business models and startups seeking to redefine the healthcare ecosystem.
  • Changes in healthcare financing, policy regulations and consumer preference.
  • Emerging insights into team dynamics and collaboration and models of effective leadership in knowledge-intensive firms.
  • Insights into the nature of decision-making and consumer behavior emerging from research undertaken by the faculty of the business school.

HBI will create a practitioner-facing knowledge portal featuring a journal and multimedia content that will present research conducted at the institute, as well as research from other sources, to the healthcare community at large.

While Bauer College and UH as a whole have long had significant ties to the healthcare industry, Pavlou said, “HBI will strengthen those relationships and create entirely new ones while equipping and empowering the workforce of tomorrow. We believe it will drive economic growth and benefit the community at large in a powerful way.”

Aron, whose research addresses the ways technology and emergent technological paradigms can improve the delivery of healthcare, joined Bauer College in 2020. He previously served on the faculty of Johns Hopkins Carey Business School at Johns Hopkins University and the Wharton School at University of Pennsylvania. 

- Story by Julie Bonnin

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