MITRE Helps the Newly Insured Gain Access to Healthcare

January 2015
Alanna Williams
Alanna Williams

MITRE's Alanna Williams has always known that she wanted to work in healthcare. As her education and early work career progressed, she zeroed in on what she really aspired to—making a positive impact on healthcare policy in America. At MITRE she found the opportunity to do that by supporting the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) in implementing the Affordable Care Act.

Williams' project work has primarily focused on outreach and knowledge management initiatives. This includes an effort to connect the newly insured to the health care system as well as building a knowledge management process and platform for easily accessing and sharing healthcare information.   

As the operators of a federally funded research and development center called the CMS Alliance to Modernize Healthcare, MITRE helps our government sponsor develop and implement policies that will result in better access and use of healthcare. As millions of individuals and families obtain health insurance, many for the first time, having the newly insured understand and use their healthcare benefits appropriately is a priority.

From Coverage to Care

Williams is on the team providing strategic guidance to the CMS Office of Minority Health as they connect with the previously uninsured and help them find regular sources of care, as well as understand the value of preventive care. This work is part of the From Coverage to Care (C2C) project, which is a joint effort by MITRE and The RAND Corporation.

The C2C team conducted outreach in several states to identify the best ways to communicate with the newly insured. The team developed and piloted prototypes for the newly insured as well as other healthcare stakeholder groups, such as community-based organizations.

"Based on feedback from our testing, we revised the materials and are in the process of translating them into six languages," she says. At this time, more than one million orders have been placed for materials.

MITRE brings to the project a well-developed understanding of all the stakeholders in the healthcare space. "I think our sponsors appreciate that MITRE provides the government with unbiased advice. Since we're strongly rooted in research, we're able to offer the subject matter expertise that the government is looking for from the perspective of a trusted adviser."

Maintaining a Knowledge Base

As her work on the C2C project progressed, Williams quickly realized the value of developing and maintaining a knowledge management database for our healthcare sponsors. She then helped develop an online tool that consolidates operations information. Knowledge management is a core capability that MITRE offers all of its sponsors.

She also co-founded a lunchtime series of discussions focused on MITRE's healthcare projects and research. Recent topics include strategies for improving healthcare quality, designing healthcare IT tools, and facilitating routine care for veterans. "We wanted to strengthen internal collaboration and project-level knowledge sharing to better serve our sponsors."

NextUp Baltimore

Williams is also active in early career development at MITRE. She is part of the core leadership team for "NextUp Baltimore"—a group of young MITRE professionals committed to promoting ongoing career growth.

"This year we've examined ways to improve the on-boarding system for new hires at MITRE," she says. They recently presented their recommendations for improving this process to upper management.

"We also hold mentoring, collaboration, and career events in addition to volunteering monthly at a local shelter."

She adds, "You really have a chance to make an impact here. MITRE is also great about providing mentoring and growth opportunities. On any given day, my work varies, I'm constantly building new skills, and that's why I like MITRE so much."

—by Kay M. Upham