MBA students tackle innovation in the healthcare field with MAD Lab

Christian Guerrero headshotAre you a UIC Business graduate student interested in start-ups, market research, venture capital, or the medical device industry? If so, the UIC Medical Accelerator for Devices Laboratory is hiring for their interdisciplinary team that develops novel, real world medical devices.

MAD Lab pairs business students with industrial designers and engineers to validate healthcare ideas and problems that UIC doctors, nurses, or students identify.  

For more details on how business students contribute to the lab, the UIC Business Blog talked to Christian Guerrero, MBA ’17, MSBA ’17, a former staff member, about his experience working at MAD Lab:

“The MAD Lab team then evaluates how universal the problem is within the healthcare field and the market viability of a potential product,” Guerrero says.  If this analysis reveals the proposal as viable for MAD Lab, they begin to explore and ideate a solution for the problem. 

During Guerrero’s time at MAD Lab, the team worked with Dr. Sangeetha Madhavan, an associate professor in the Department of Physical Therapy and director of the Brain Plasticity Laboratory at UIC. 

“When patients have strokes,” Guerrero explains, “they go through physical rehabilitation to gain movement back on the side of the body that’s affected. The device that she was using was a huge, cumbersome, metal frame that was two by three feet and just took up a lot of space.”  Dr. Madhavan also hoped Mad Lab could design a product that would work with a more advanced user interface, making rehab engaging for patients.

As a business student on the team, Guerrero took the lead on exploring the competitive landscape for the product.

“I was tasked with exploring the market viability of a potential product and evaluating whether this idea would have legs, along with some IP assessment to see if there was value beyond just solving the problem that’s been presented.” 

Through a couple of weeks of research, Guerrero identified that while there were existing products on the market, they were bulky, and nothing comparable was available in the arena of stroke rehabilitation. Because of his background in manufacturing and engineering, he also worked on technology concepts for the device itself.  

The team ultimately developed a bluetooth enabled device that is portable enough for patients to use at home.  The device will also be paired with a game interface on a mobile phone app.

Through this experience and others, Guerrero’s time working at MAD Lab allowed him to view the problem-solving process from a different perspective. 

“As a business student, I tended to focus on metrics and getting the solution as quickly as possible. Working with designers, I was able to learn the design thinking methodology in which you look at the problem from a human-centered perspective and start ideating from there.” Guerrero explains the concept central to design thinking and the team at MAD Lab, “if you’re going to fail, fail fast, that way you can iterate quicker.”

Joining the interdisciplinary lab group also reminded Guerrero of his time in the manufacturing field, working with a team comprised of individuals with different skills and different points of view all trying to solve a problem.

“MAD Lab prepares you for that experience,” he says, “As part of the team you navigate the different ideas, attitudes and perspectives that you’re going to encounter when trying to solve a problem in a professional workplace.”

With professional goals are focused within the analytics space and data science, Guerrero’s career interests were strongly influenced by his time at UIC Business and MAD Lab.

“When I decided to go back to grad school, my focus was to just do analytics and be industry agnostic.  Being part of MAD Lab allowed me to see possibilities within the healthcare industry.”

Guerrero now works at the American Medical Association as a business data analyst, a role he believes he would not have been offered without his MAD Lab experience.

“MAD Lab allowed me to explore, research and gain a more thorough understanding of the healthcare space,” he says, “It took me from pure analytics to a larger perspective.”

MAD Lab applications are now open for UIC Business graduate students. Meetings this semester are Fridays from 10am – 12pm, with a total work commitment of 8 hours per week through May 2018.

Email Charles Frisbie if you are interested or have any questions, and for more information visit the MAD Lab website.