Assistant Professor of Decisions, Operations and Technology Management Fernanda Bravo designs analytical models and data-driven frameworks that improve strategic and operational decision-making in health care organizations.
“The health care industry is going through a major transformation,” she says. “Health care networks are growing: they are buying small practices, acquiring community hospitals, taking care of larger populations…. Moreover, with the adoption of risk payment contracts (between payers-providers), we will observe increasing market interactions in the industry. Networks will be able to buy services one from another, and an obvious question is, what kind of pricing contracts will prevail in these business-to-business interactions? One of my research interests has focused on understanding the incentives in these interactions, the risks involved, and how different pricing contracts can allow networks to align and share their opposing risks.”
A native of Chile who earned her Ph.D. at MIT, Bravo took an early interest in medicine and biology, initially pursuing biotech engineering. She discovered classes in optimization and operations management, which led her to industrial engineering, and then she circled back to a medical context, finding — by working with professionals at every level of the organization at Boston-area Children’s Hospital, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Partners Healthcare, to name a few — that she liked the hospital environment and wanted to see the direct impact of her work.
At the market level, she has been studying how to better share and mitigate risk in service-based B2B supply chains via innovative pricing contract designs. “I’m coming up with ideas to balance risk so that it’s not incurred by only one side.” At the system level, she has developed an optimization-driven approach to understand cost, guide resource allocation and network capacity building decisions. “I’m working to understand cost in a network environment and how networks can use their resources to offer proper access to care.”
In Bravo’s long experience of interactions with real networks and providers, she has found that hospital personnel and those in private practice have very different views of the processes and resources involved in the delivery of care. She has used several machine learning techniques to better understand sources of variability in operational scheduling of surgical activities in a highly unpredictable pediatric environment. Unlike in most adult centers, surgeon identity, she found, had very limited impact on surgery duration.
“It’s different from the standard manufacturing and service industries because you have to take into account policy makers, industry incentives, the population and providers themselves and put all those perspectives into a kind of a bucket and figure out how we can do things differently, how we can deliver care better.”
Bravo is finding that more and more people from the medical sector are pursuing MBAs. She understands their perspectives as health and medical professionals and says their experience enriches the b-school curriculum. The opportunity to teach a class using examples meaningful to all the students’ day-to-day lives increases when the topic is health care delivery and management. “We have all been a patient at some point in our life,” she says. “Everybody has experienced some kind of inefficiency. The management of health care systems and organizations affects everybody, not just providers.”
Ph.D. Operations Management, 2015, Sloan School of Management, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
M.S. Operations Management, 2009, Universidad de Chile, Santiago, Chile
Professional Degree Industrial Engineering, 2009, Universidad de Chile, Santiago, Chile
B.S. Industrial Engineering, 2007, Universidad de Chile, Santiago, Chile
B.S. Biotechnology Engineering, 2006, Universidad de Chile, Santiago, Chile