A Doctor Driven to Help People and Solve Hard Problems

April 2017
Sybil Klaus

Dr. Sybil Klaus is a pediatric hospitalist who joined MITRE in 2016 to provide the company's researchers with her unique perspective as they develop new technologies and processes to improve healthcare. She also supports the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services through her work with the MITRE- operated CMS Alliance to Modernize Healthcare, and the Veterans Health Administration.

"I love helping children one at a time. But I'm also driven to make big-picture improvements in healthcare. For me, that means focusing upon innovation, research, investigation, and finding ways to work together better across the many layers of the healthcare system."

Looking back, Dr. Klaus graduated with her pediatric internship and residency program from the University of California, San Diego. From there, she became a pediatric hospitalist, first in Hawaii, and then Florida. She joined Johns Hopkins Children's Center in 2008 as a pediatric hospitalist.

In 2015, she received her master's degree from Johns Hopkins University in public health. Klaus "fell in love with research." Then MITRE's Ellen Sweeney, population health group leader in Baltimore, recommended that Klaus join the company. "I decided MITRE was right for me," Klaus says. "They needed people with both clinical and public health experience. It's an innovative company and I was excited about the chance to do research."

Even though she joined The MITRE Corporation, she still maintains her practice by doing 12-hour shifts at Hopkins each week—and an overnight shift at Kennedy Krieger Institute once a month.

"I love taking care of children with the most complex chronic conditions. They are the most fragile and their parents have gone through so much. I want to do what I can to help. But I also recognize that through MITRE, I have the opportunity to help large numbers of people."

Heading up the MITRE Innovation Healthcare Program

As the head of MITRE's internal research program for healthcare, Klaus shares her real-world clinical and public health knowledge with engineers.

"For example, it's so easy to say, 'Let's add a new alert' to some healthcare solution we have in mind. But I know firsthand the potential unintended consequences of adding distractions to doctors when they are trying to talk with their patients in a hospital setting."

Currently, Klaus oversees nine healthcare research projects. When asked for more detail, she offered two examples.

"Last year the MITRE innovation team developed an evidence-based application to help doctors diagnose sepsis. This year, they are incorporating it with another, related project, which uses a machine- based learning algorithm to predict who might have sepsis.

"So we are starting with prediction, moving to diagnosis, then optimizing treatment based upon evidence-based guidelines. From there, we give point-of-care feedback to the physician." The team is currently working on the application with Johns Hopkins' pediatric critical care unit.

MITRE also collaborated with MedStar National Rehabilitation Hospital to develop an inexpensive, field portable system to rapidly screen for mild traumatic brain injury and monitor recovery. "This is really important for physicians working with children and adults who are having sports-related concussions—and it's useful for our soldiers."

Klaus herself was also integral to a recent research project involving better ways to serve the healthcare needs of rural communities.

Healthcare Professionals at MITRE

Klaus encourages other medical professionals to consider joining MITRE.

"It's a flexible and agile place to work. If you're like most clinicians, you became one to help people. At MITRE, you'll do important work on hard medical problems that will ultimately help many, many people."

—by Bill Eidson

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