U.S. Health Track Capstone Class

The course explores how to approach persistent administrative and policy problems using a case-based interdisciplinary approach. It draws from the disciplinary skills and knowledge of students in the course and challenges students to use that knowledge in collaborative and creative ways to solve real world problems. Students take on an administrative, strategy, or policy problem in interdisciplinary teams. Building on each disciplinary strength–social work and social welfare frameworks, policy analysis, law, medicine, and business (management, financial, etc.) – students  provide a set of recommendations and an action plan to approach the health problem. Cases are provided by the instructor; students have the opportunity to express their preferences regarding the cases. The course includes numerous cases and focuses on the process of interdisciplinary teamwork as well as on addressing racism and health inequity as part of solving the complex problem.

Team Based Learning

In the GPHAP capstone course, Key Issues in Health Care: An Interdisciplinary Case Studies Approach, interdisciplinary teams of students work on complex problems faced by organizations in the health care field. Approximately seven teams are formed, each with one business, one policy, one social work, and one law student. Each team receives a different complex problem that is actually being grappled with by organizations in the field. The team is then charged with coming up with an interdisciplinary solution that brings the strengths and knowledge of each of the disciplines to solve the problem. The teams meet several times with the case mentor, often a senior executive at the organization. Each team has an opportunity to report on their progress to a panel of experts that includes the case mentor. All the students in the class hear those presentations so the learning goes beyond just one’s own case. The teams are responsible for presenting the analysis to the organization at the end of the course.

Previous Case Examples

Improving Community Transitions for Justice Involved Populations

The team worked with United Health Care (UHC) to improve transitions for justice-involved populations in Pima County, AZ.  Correctional facilities are increasingly used to house people with mental health issues, substance use problems and chronic health conditions. UHC’s aim to address Medicaid issues related to the transition out of correctional facilities including coverage gaps and reducing undue Emergency Department visits was addressed by recommendations to initiate interventions upstream at intercept 0 (i.e. prior to engagement with the justice system).

Engaging and Supporting Rush’s Low-Wage Employees

The team developed recommendations to engage and support Rush Anchor Mission Initiatives’ low-wage employees. This project responds to one arm of Rush’s five-arm approach to invest in, support, and build opportunities for their local community via the Anchor Mission Strategy initiative. Specifically, our recommendations consider how Rush can support the needs of their own employees who are a vital part of the West-Side Community.


Erie Family Health Centers Walk-In Strategy

Erie Family Health Centers (Erie) is a Federally Health Qualified Center with 13 locations serving over 73,000 patients in the Chicagoland area.  The patient population is largely minority and low-income, and many are covered by Medicaid/CHIP or are uninsured.  Erie Health is aware of rising trends in consumerism and accessibility and is committed to identifying ways to better serve their patients.  Erie recently improved patient access through increased immediate care access and is interested in adding walk-in capacity, specifically with the goal of decreasing unnecessary Emergency Department usage. The team provided recommendations on staffing models for immediate care and urgent care settings.

Behavioral Health Integration

The team worked to create a community-based, integrated behavioral health systems in the UCM catchment area to meet complex environmental and patient needs. Rising costs of chronic, non-communicable diseases and psychiatric conditions have required providers to find innovative ways to work with patients with complex care needs. Further, the intersection of poor physical and mental health have been driving the disparity in life expectancy for people with severe mental illnesses. Given the linkage between behavioral and physical health, any system which fails to integrate care will ultimately exasperate overburdened health systems, drive costs up for those most vulnerable, and continue the diverging disparity in health outcomes for these people.  

  • SPARCC – Collective Impact Initiative to Build Healthy Homes
  • Financial Toxicity – Insurer Grapples with Financial Challenges of Patients
  • SHARE Network – Healthy Aging & Issues Related to Low Wage Workforce
  • Federally Qualified Health Center – Medicaid Reform
  • Health Organization Anchor Mission Strategy – Improving Population Health
  • Social Impact Bond Initiative – Pediatric Asthma
  • Sinai Health System – Post-Acute Care Delivery Transformation Strategy
  • AbbVie – Pharmaceutical Value-Based Pricing
  • UChicago Medicine – South Side Healthy Communities Organization (SSHCO)
  • UChicago Urban Labs – Gun Violence as a Public Health Issue
  • Private Equity – Impact on Health Care
  • UnitedHealthcare – Addressing Social Isolation and Social Connectedness
  • Rush University Medical Center – The Value of Social Care: Providing the Social Determinants of Health (SDOH)
  • Chicago City – Wide Scale-up of Virtual Medical Group Visits for Diabetes Care