HOUSTON – A student team from Purdue University won the $6,000 first-place prize in the inaugural Healthcare Analytics Case Competition sponsored by health and well-being company Humana Inc. and Mays Business School at Texas A&M University. It was held at Mays’ CityCentre Houston location.

More than 300 master’s-level students representing 109 teams from 19 major universities in the U.S. registered for the competition, which showcased students’ analytical abilities to solve a real-world business problem. Students enrolled full-time in accredited Master of Science, Master of Arts, Master of Information Systems, Master of Public Health, or Master of Business Administration programs at educational institutions based in the United States were eligible to enter.

Purdue students Hongxia Shi, Shenyang Yang, and Xiangyi Che received the top prize after a presentation Thursday, Nov. 9 to an executive panel of judges.

Purdue team members Hongxia Shi, Shenyang Yang, and Xiangyi Che won first place. They are flanked by Arvind Mahajan of Mays Business School, left, and Vipin Gopal of Humana, right.

The second-place prize of $3,000 was awarded to Martin Shapiro, Lianne Ho, and David Sung of the University of Southern California, and the third-place prize of $1,500 was presented to Yvonne Yu, David Proudman, and Christina Murphy of the University of California, Berkeley.

“The Mays MBA Program is pleased to partner with Humana to bring together the brightest graduate students in the country to use data analytics in solving a real-world business problem in health care, one of the three Grand Challenge areas of Mays Business School,” said Arvind Mahajan, associate dean for graduate programs at Mays.

The analytics case received by the students was designed to be ambiguous, similar to a real-world business problem. The students were asked to predict the likelihood of a newly-diagnosed Type II diabetes patient with a Medicare Advantage health plan being admitted to an inpatient facility within a year and then the likelihood of readmission within a year. Students had to evaluate more than 900 variables, including age of the patient, gender, geography, type of health plan, and patient medication adherence.

“We are very impressed with not only the number of entries to the competition but also the level of expertise shown by the students in response to our scenario,” said Vipin Gopal, Enterprise Vice President for Humana. “We hope this competition inspires the students to think about careers in health care and challenges them to use their analytical skills to help shape the way our industry delivers care.”

The teams were judged based on the following criteria:

  • Ability to establish key performance indicators aligned to business needs
  • Quantitative analysis identifying key business insights
  • Ability to provide unique insights for business improvements
  • Professionalism and visualization skills

For assistance, applicants were allowed to pick from an array of tools, including R. Python, SAS, SPSS, Matlab, and Excel to help solve the problem.