Syllabus | Business Model Innovation: Global Health in Frontier Markets

Course Meeting Times

Lectures: 2 sessions / week, 1.5 hours / session


There are no prerequisites for this course, save the requirement that non-business school students require the instructor's permission—we will want to see at least three business classes in applicants' backgrounds. Cross-registered graduate students are welcome, space permitting.

Course Description

Learn what works (and what doesn’t) in innovative startups and inspiring leading-edge organizations that are remaking healthcare delivery across the globe. An engaging mix of content, case studies, student investigations, and class guests inspires our ideas and insights. To frame the issues and opportunities, we analyze varied organizations, asking why some fall short while others grow in size and contribute to the health of the people they serve. Our understanding of bottlenecks, constraints, and opportunities sets the context for ongoing exploration of promising business model and social enterprise innovations.

Modern medicine could reduce disease greatly, yet fails to reach millions across the globe. Innovations in technology, process, marketing, and finance have the potential to help address the delivery challenges—not just in frontier markets, but everywhere. In this class, we explore novel solutions and new business models for delivering health care in resource-limited settings. The aim is to apply business and management lenses to what global health experts call the implementation gap. Our focus on the enterprise makes the most of MIT Sloan strengths and interests in strategy, entrepreneurship, globalization, innovation, sustainability, systems, logistics, economic development, and healthcare delivery.

Course Overview

Business Model Innovation: Global Health in Frontier Markets investigates how specific arrangements of organizational design and function enable scale and sustainability for health care delivery amid resource constraints. We examine a variety of promising enterprises to understand what differentiates the successful from those that fall short in delivering health care in the most challenging settings. Over the course of our twelve 80-minute class sessions, we'll explore varied cases, compelling video content, and interactive discussions, along with mini case studies that student teams develop. Throughout the course, students draw on their education and experience in finance, operations, strategy, and marketing to investigate a variety of unique delivery challenges in emerging markets. Professor Sastry builds on her experience with global health delivery in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, background in system dynamics, and an extensive network of experts.

First offered as 15.965 in 2010, and subsequently as 15.S02, the course offers an invaluable perspective on what works—or could work—in global health. Health outcomes, scale, and financial and other aspects of sustainability are all central concerns. We'll be exploring these concepts in a variety of ways.

Course Design

In the first part of the course, we analyze the issues through a set of case studies, readings, and discussions. As we build our library of examples, we'll be developing a map of potential linkages between business models, health impacts, and context. We'll also be generating a list of open questions and continuing an evolving dialog about the role of business and business thinking in global health.

The course takes on several linked themes: growth and scale; philanthropy and partnerships; promising business models; and new ideas and difficult tradeoffs in scale, sustainability, and impact. In over a dozen case discussions, you'll discover how these themes are linked to key business issues of strategy, operations, marketing, finance, and human resource management.

In the final segment of the course you'll share your operational and strategic insights from your own mini case study with the class, connecting your insights and questions on performance, innovation, and sustainability for your focal enterprise with themes from the class. These presentations set the stage for expert guest commentators to share feedback and perspectives.

Course Requirements and Grading

Business Model Innovation: Global Health in Frontier Markets is a 6-credit half-semester course that must be taken for a letter grade. Our class sessions promise to be lively and include interactions and exercises designed to build the dialog within the class and the wider community. Many of our discussions are case-based, so preparation and participation are important. Some cases are non-traditional in format, and include video and other content. Early on, you'll form small teams and your group will be assigned an organization or program to examine. There is no final exam. Course requirements and key deliverables fall into three categories, described below.

Individual managerial briefing assignment 15%
Class participation 25%
Mini case portfolio 60%

Individual Managerial Briefing Assignment: Early in the course, turn in a 2–3 page memo aimed at business executives outlining the critical facts and implications for management and delivery of health care for A disease or health condition you select from our list.

Class Participation is assessed on the basis of the quality (not quantity!) of contributions to class sessions as well as the feedback offered to classmates. We take into account your performance during your team's check-in meeting with the Professor or TA and your team's in-class presentation.

Mini Case Portfolio: Organizational Analysis, Presentation, Executive Summary, and Team Learning Memo: Self-selected teams will be assigned a global health organization or program with a compelling model or mission. Each student group will analyze the organization's model and potential for impact, scale, and sustainability from financial, operational, strategic, and marketing perspectives, linking to themes from class discussions.

The mini case portfolio consists of a team memo on value measures, value chain, and value proposition; a presentation deck; a two-page executive summary; integrated sources and bibliography; and a team learning memo. Your team will present a subset of your slides in class to your classmates and our invited guests. Each team is also required to schedule a a check-in meeting with the course team to seek feedback on their draft presentation and executive summary.

Course Communications

To build a dialog about global health delivery and management, we'll be referring and contributing to the class blog. Check the blog every week and add your comments. Students who must miss class will post thoughtful comments there. Some of our in-class discussions generate great blog posts, so do follow and join the dialog.

We designed this course to make the most of our shared resources for this class for future students at MIT and elsewhere. Please contribute to our growing body of knowledge: send in links, make comments, share ideas and resources. Business Model Innovation: Global Health in Frontier Markets examines issues at the intersection of entrepreneurship, management, economic development, and healthcare—a nexus of innovation where new ideas, practices, and models are constantly emerging. Join us in exploring this new frontier!

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