MIT Sloan’s India Lab Helps Jodhpur School Of Public Health Project On Type 2 Diabetes

A four-member students’ team from MIT Sloan recently participated in an India Lab action learning project with the Jodhpur School of Public Health to study the rapid growth of Type 2 diabetes in India, affecting an estimated 62 million people.

The team, comprising Jackie Atlas, Jessica Lu, Peter Steele, and Aly Eltayeb, (all MBA ’17) and Shahan Bhaidani, (MBA ’16), worked with the school on a pilot project for diabetes screening.

Lu, who has a background in pharmaceuticals and biomedical engineering, said the project was to assess the potential financial and patient benefits that would result from diabetes screening and early intervention.

With Type 2 diabetes, it is important to build awareness and education prior to any symptoms appearing. The biggest challenge is to change the mindset of people about public health and preventive care, she added.

About the specifics of the project, Liu said the team was to help the Jodhpur School with its mobile health program, partnering with ClickMedix, to screen for diabetes. The MIT alumni-founded mobile health technology company, had developed the algorithm based on survey screening questions used to identify people as at risk or not at risk for diabetes.

The company has launched multiple mobile health programs all over the world using mobile phones and technology for medical and health care. For this project, it developed a mobile health app to screen for diabetes.

While the School was busy in setting goals for a 3-year project and the best model to be adopted, Sloan’s India Lab team quantitatively assessed both the potential patient impact and financial impact on the health care system by implementing a proactive diabetes prevention system. The pilot project is initially screening 20,000 people.

“Through primary and secondary research, we were able to project how many pre-diabetic and diagnosed diabetic people could benefit from early intervention. Our evaluation will enable Jodhpur School of Public Health to benchmark its success and give the team on the ground an understanding of the results they generate as compared to the government and international health organizations that are approaching diabetes from another angle,” Liu said.

Liu said health care in India remaining symptoms-based and most people were not taking preventive care measures for various non-communicable diseases such as diabetes.

The hospitals were extremely overcrowded and the entire health care system in India seems to be overburdened. Focusing on preventive care could lessen this burden on both the system and the patients, Liu said.

On the benefits the Sloan team derived from the project, she said, “We were able to speak with a great variety of people including patients and nurses in rural villages, community health care workers and doctors, senior private practice and hospital doctors, and government officials at the district, state, and national levels.

“I also really enjoyed working with my team, developing our team dynamics and leadership skills, and being immersed in the project and Indian culture,” she added.

Sloan’s India Lab combines traditional classroom learning with intensive real-world experience. Students get an opportunity to hone their business and consulting skills in an international setting. Through a four-month consulting project, they work with host companies to help fix their most pressing business problems. (Image Courtesy