Action Learning

MIT Sloan’s signature Action Learning Labs are designed to give students real-world insights into health systems innovations by putting them on the front lines of healthcare delivery. In the classroom and on site at hospitals, clinics, and other health organizations, students work on solutions to complex health systems challenges in the US and around the world.

For more than a decade, healthcare spending in the U.S. has been rising at a rate far exceeding inflation. Annual spending in 2014 was $3 trillion, or more than 17.5% of the national GDP, far exceeding that of any other developed country. Yet these same countries out-perform the United States in many areas, such as life expectancy at birth and cost-related barriers to healthcare access. There is evidence that the U.S. health system has improved in some areas (e.g., the percentage of children receiving all recommended doses of vaccines), but other measurements indicate that the U.S has worsened in other areas (e.g., self-reported healthy days).

Our Healthcare Lab (H-Lab) student teams work on complex problems with host organizations in critical areas, including operations management, analytics, IT, delivery innovation, strategic marketing, organizational dynamics, etc., with an emphasis on healthcare delivery and improving health outcomes for the population.

H-Lab teams are generally composed of four MIT graduate students from Sloan and other MIT schools. Teams work for their host organizations on a four-month project engagement, remotely from MIT during the fall, and for up to three weeks, on-site (if feasible) at their host organizations in January. The host organizations collaborate with their student teams to define the project scope, develop work plans and determine the deliverables the teams will create.

H-Lab teams deliver significant, concrete value to their host organizations. Equally important are the unprecedented opportunities for students to apply their leading-edge classroom learning to complex health and healthcare issues in real time.

Past Healthcare-Lab (H-Lab) projects have included:

  • Creating a marketing plan for a startup company that uses a new device to support the communications needs of autistic children.
  • Designing and implementing a systematic and efficient patient allocation system for multiple surgical rooms across a local medical center.
  • Working with a local community to design a social media campaign for their drug- abuse prevention program specifically targeted to teens.
  • Designing an automated scheduling system to allocate staff and resources for a local hospital’s interventional radiology practice, including creating new policies for addressing delays and optimizing end-of-day activities.
  • Creating a communications and marketing strategy for a local obesity-prevention campaign.
  • Building a scheduling model to predict and smooth demand at a nationwide retail clinic and revising the menu of services to focus on wellness and chronic diseases.
  • Creating a marketing plan for Internet of Things medical devices.

The Lab requires a substantial time commitment from the hosting organization, the students, and the faculty who guide the project. The critical milestones for hosts include:

  • Mid August– project application deadline. Please submit applications via the website link below.
  • September, first and second weeks of semester – students are matched with accepted projects.
  • End of September – begin conversations with student teams about project design and proposal or workplan.
  • October through December – student teams actively engage host (usually via phone or Skype) to follow workplan.
  • January – teams spend up to three weeks at the host organization advancing the project and making presentations to senior leaders.

Register to be a host company for Fall