VPS Healthcare and Asia School of Business Host Dubai’s First-Ever Climate Change and Healthcare Hackathon

Solutions identified leverage AI and data to predict climate-related patient surges, simulate the impact of new projects/policies, and more

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates, 9 Feb 2022: A cohort of 59 MBA students from Asia School of Business (ASB), a collaboration between the MIT Sloan School of Management and Malaysia’s central bank (Bank Negara Malaysia), participated in an innovative climate change and healthcare-focused hackathon in Dubai, UAE, jointly organized by ASB and VPS Healthcare, one of the leading integrated healthcare providers in the region with 24 operational hospitals and over 125 healthcare centers.

As part of its immersive and application-based MBA experience, students learned about Dubai’s healthcare industry through applying Action Learning problem-solving approaches and frameworks gained during their MBA to address a pressing real-world challenge faced by VPS Healthcare as well as healthcare groups all over the world – climate change.

During the 5-hour hackathon, groups of students ideated and presented solutions for how VPS Healthcare can include climate-informed assessments into healthcare decision-making and health policies to meet the needs of patients today and in the future.

The students, hailing from 19 different countries, had the opportunity to immerse themselves in the city of Dubai as part of a longer 4-day Dubai trek that included visiting the Dubai World Expo and interactions with corporate partners to understand how Dubai has transformed itself from its reliance on oil, which used to account for 50 percent of GDP, into a global trade and tourism destination with over 95 percent of GDP coming from non-oil industries. This includes healthcare and medical tourism, which has grown into one of Dubai’s top sectors, thanks to a rapidly growing urban population as well as a high influx of medical tourists who trust Dubai’s high-tech facilities to receive treatment.

Yet the rise in this sector poses a unique challenge: in carrying out its healing mission, the healthcare sector needs to factor in challenges that will become increasingly hard to ignore, including increased fatalities and injuries due to extreme weather events and a rise in chronic health conditions like asthma, infectious diseases, and mental illness.

At the recent United Nations’ Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow, 45 countries including the United Arab Emirates committed to transforming their health systems to be less carbon emitting and more environmentally sustainable. Recognizing the key role that they play as one of the UAE’s leading healthcare groups, VPS Healthcare collaborated with the ASB to host this hackathon that would enable the organization to source fresh new thinking and innovative solutions to this enormous challenge.

“The partnership between VPS Healthcare and Asia School of Business represents our commitment towards addressing what experts are calling one of the greatest public health threats of our time,” said Dr. Shamsheer Vayalil, Founder and Chairman of VPS Healthcare. “We believe it will take collective effort globally to mitigate and address the climate risks we face today.

The MBA students of the first-ever VPS Healthcare-ASB Climate Change Hackathon proposed a number of ‘hacks’ that can help create resilient and sustainable solutions for the mission-driven health systems like VPS Healthcare, and impact the health of patients and communities they live in. The evaluation criteria for the winning ‘hacks’ considered the applicability of the solutions and the novelty of the ideas. Solutions identified include AI-based predictive analytics combining patient data with meteorological data and other historical data to inform capacity planning, and a real-time carbon tracking dashboard using procurement and planning data to simulate the impact of a new project or policy.

“As an industry leader within a region that is rapidly ascending to global prominence, VPS Healthcare wants to be front and center in finding solutions for the challenges posed by climate change and believe that the solutions presented by the students will help us formulate climate change–driven procedures and integrate them into policies with a sense of urgency” added Dr. Vayalil. “At the same time, we also want to see how we can reduce our carbon footprint and implement environmentally conscious policies, as we want to do our part in leading the way towards a more sustainable manner of delivering outstanding healthcare.”

“We’re extremely grateful to be able to partner with a world-class company like VPS Healthcare to address such an important challenge while providing our students with a rich, international learning experience, especially during these volatile pandemic times. We look forward to continuing our partnership with VPS Healthcare in equipping them with the knowledge and intellectual resources to carry out their commendable mission of providing world-class healthcare in a sustainable manner,” said Sean O. Ferguson, Senior Associate Dean at Asia School of Business.