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Marketing capstone course and Mayo Clinic Health System collaborate on consulting project for fourth year in a row

| Carrie Ottum

For the eighth semester in a row, students in Marketing Management 438, the marketing capstone class taught by Dr. Kranti (Kran) Dugar, were engaged in a semester-long consulting project with Mayo Clinic Health System (MCHS) addressing a business concern identified by the organization. 

Shane Smith, Operations Administrator, Cardiovascular Diseases, NW/SW Wisconsin, explained the business problem, "We wanted students to suggest strategies to improve enrollments, usage, and patient interaction with our Patient Portal – 90% by end of July, in line with MCHS’s 2030 Plan for Areas of Strategic Focus.”  

To address this problem, in phases through the semester, student teams worked on three different business problems: competitive analysis and market scanning, product/market development, and promotional plan development for MCHS’s EPIC Patient Portal.

Smith and Dr. Dugar facilitated lectures, coaching sessions, and answered student questions-both virtually and in person-for 95 students who were part of 12 consulting teams. 

Teams then presented and submitted an executive summary to MCHS’s Administrative and Planning Leadership team, who judged the top two teams as part of the final phase of the consulting project.

The two teams recognized for excellence comprised Hunter Brandon, Spencer Gagne, Brent Lameyer, Spencer Nickel, Henry Rosene, Taylor Stroinski, Robert Waksdahl, Taylor Welscher, Salem Adkins, Davis Brinkmann, Paige Carlson, Krystin Czuprynko, Sarah Horsman, Jordan Quale, Marina Von Rutenberg, and Ethan Weaver. The successful students were given an e-certificate of excellence and scored a mention on MCHS’s newsletter.

Jason Craig, Regional Chair of Administration, expressed how impressed he was with the gamut of useful material and insights from the student teams and how the teams understood MCHS’s complex organization and generated clear opportunities in the future. “The work with this class continues to reinforce the quality of students graduating from COB, and the quality of instructors employed.”  

"My most sincere thanks to Dr. Dugar and the students for the opportunity to work together. The students’ work on the portal is even more applicable now when the COVID-19 pandemic necessitates connectivity with and safety of our patients while planning to meet our community surge demands.” 

Working on this project gave students a great insight into business problems in real companies. 

Sarah Horsman

Sarah Horsman

"Throughout the course of this semester, our team was able to collaborate effectively and adapt to changing circumstances to still complete the MCHS report. We were able to find ways to still communicate with each other while not having the opportunity to meet in-person during the second half of the semester," Sarah Horsman, a senior marketing major from Bloomington, MN, and team lead, commented about her team's experience. 

Horsman highlighted the flexibility the team showed despite challenges posed by COVID-19, "We also found ways to successfully complete the necessary primary research to give creative strategy and implementation recommendations. We accomplished this using in-depth interviews (video chat or phone call) and a comprehensive online survey.”

The on-going partnership between MCHS and the Marketing Management capstone class was beneficial for both parties-a high impact experience for the students and forward-thinking viewpoints for MCHS. 

“COVID-19 made the consulting project experience both more challenging and more relevant for the student teams," Dugar shared. "I cannot be more proud of my students, who overcame the challenges and came up with impressive recommendations. These students are ready for the real world."

Taylor Welscher

Taylor Welscher

Taylor Welscher, a marketing major with a marketing analytics emphasis from Caledonia, MN, and team lead, summarized her team's learning-centered around teamwork, "The experience of learning as a team was unique this semester because of Covid-19 and the second half shift to online classes. For the team to remain effective when analyzing the information, we divided and conquered."

Welscher and her team members efficiently designated roles for one another to ensure each task was finished on time. Each member would take initiative in completing a task they felt they were strong at.

As work was completed individually, they asked questions to one another when we needed help. Each member was readily available and added wherever necessary. Although the team was challenged by not being able to meet face to face, they were still able to communicate through a group chat.

"Our team was effective in holding one another accountable and completing work ahead of time instead of the last minute. We believe we wrote an effective marketing plan for MCHS and this came with working together well as a team," Welscher says. 

The collaboration between UW-Eau Claire and Mayo would not be successful without the effort and dedication from both organizations. 

"I want to put on record Shane Smith’s commitment to education, and support for our students. I commend our community partner. MCHS has been a pleasure to work with, and I am forever grateful to the support and insights of Shane Smith, Jason Craig, and the rest of the MCHS team,” said Dugar. 

Dugar also is grateful for the support from Dr. Kristy Lauver, Management and Marketing Chair and Dean Brewer Doran by encouraging him to build and maintain such partnerships to enhance his teaching through high impact practices. 

The College of Business prides itself on providing value-added educational experiences while preparing students for success.  

Below is the memo from Shane Smith to Dr. Dugar and the MGK 438 students: 

Date:  May 26, 2020
To:      Dr. Kranti K. Dugar and marketing 438 Students
Re:      MCHS and UWEC Portal Project  

I would like to take this opportunity to thank you, and both sections of the Marketing 438 course, for engaging in the patient portal project designed to help leverage technology for our patients of Mayo Clinic Health System.  This project is one that is critical for MCHS to identify opportunities to advance our care delivery method in a way to improve access and availability to care within our communities we serve.

While COVID-19 caused us to make some significant changes in the delivery method of teaching, coaching and mentoring, I was very impressed with the results of the teams.  The students not only had to transition their approach to learning, but do so while designing a plan surrounding the future of healthcare delivery.  Interestingly enough, the pandemic caused the teams to see the transition of care to a virtual model as most healthcare organizations had to initiate in rapid fashion.  It was intriguing how quickly the students adapted their classroom activities to the demands of defining a portal enrollment strategy during this difficult time of COVID-19.  The final products that they produced were diverse and provided MCHS a great opportunity to use the student’s knowledge to improve our methods to reach patients in a virtual care model.

Please extend my thanks to the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire College of Business for partnering on this project.  The final reports generated by the students will assist MCHS in guiding our efforts to expand care via use of the electronic portal.  I appreciate the time and commitment that all the students put in to this projects and I wish you all well with your future endeavors and I look forward to working with you in the future.

Shane Smith
Operations Administrator-NWWI OAM / Wisconsin          
Cardiovascular Medicine, Cardiovascular & Thoracic Surgery, Wound Care & Hyperbaric Medicine, Vascular Medicine