Carnegie Mellon University

Medical care team

The Key to Tackling Health Care's Most Pressing Problems: A Multidisciplinary Approach

By Alan Scheller-Wolf, Senior associate dean, faculty and research; Richard M. Cyert professor of operations management

The health care industry is facing enormous challenges: Costs are rising, consumer demands and expectations are ever-evolving, and delivery roadblocks persist.

The Tepper School health care initiative is on a mission, with teams of experts who are tackling the most pressing problems in the sector. We are targeting those problems where the combined application of our particular areas of expertise (optimization, machine learning, technology, organizational learning, economics, modeling uncertainty) can be applied in novel ways to make real differences in the lives of patients. What makes our projects work so well is the high level of collaboration among experts from multiple disciplines.

We’re looking at big problems facing society that can’t be solved by one researcher or even a small number of researchers in one discipline. Bringing people together is vital for developing and applying new ideas, or applying old ideas in new ways.

Cross-Disciplinary Health Care and Heath Technology Research

The Tepper School’s reputation in high-level health care and health technology research is leading to successful new ventures across the country. For example, we have cross-disciplinary teams of researchers working on:

  • Increasing organ availability for transplants, drawing on expertise in operations management, optimization, analytics, financial planning, and behavioral sciences. Figuring out how private jets can be used to bring people to organs, instead of organs to people, is one facet. Another is discovering what strategies are effective to nudge potential donors (and their families) to decide to commit to donation.
  • Using AI and big data to develop early diagnostic tools for diseases, from cancer to sleep apnea to opioid addiction, and to connect health care providers and patients using digital platforms.
  • Finding ways to ensure health care operations and markets run smoothly, from organ listings to insurance design to blood supplies.
  • Designing effective teams and ensuring critical knowledge transfer, boosting communication in the high-demand, health care world.

Preparing Our Students to Contribute in the Health Care Sector

We’re also creating a concentration in health care and technology for the growing number of students who are planning careers in this burgeoning sector. Set to launch next year, graduates will be ready to contribute on the front lines, whether at a promising startup, a major pharmaceutical company, or a tech firm.

Many of our researchers also have appointments in computer science, machine learning, or hospitals. We know the theory behind finding better solutions and how to apply it to the real, high-stakes world of health care.

Our project teams are solving the biggest problems in the industry in the best possible way—by working across silos to find the answers together.