Father and daughter at with a doctor

A Decade of Protecting and Promoting Health and Well-Being

By Karina Wright

The past 10 years heightened public health and healthcare challenges and inequities on every front: physical, mental, and economic. The MITRE-operated Health Federally Funded Research and Development Center has been a catalyst for progress throughout.

Seismic shifts in policy, disease, technology, social justice, and even weather events have transformed health—in concept and scale—in just one decade. The Health Federally Funded Research and Development Center (Health FFRDC) MITRE operates has evolved against this backdrop of enormous change.

This fall marks the center’s 10th year of strengthening the U.S. healthcare system and protecting and promoting well-being across communities. Our work reaches beyond our nation’s borders, reflecting the nature of disease, supply chains, and global health security.

The one constant since the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)-sponsored Health FFRDC was established is this North Star question: How do we provide access to better health outcomes for everyone?

The answers are reflected in a diverse set of breakthroughs and R&D:

  • Informing implementation of landmark federal legislation to expand access to health insurance, improve healthcare quality, transform payment models, and prevent surprise billing
  • Empowering patients and providers with better information to make care decisions through health data standards, interoperability, and digital health
  • Creating and accelerating new strategies, protections, and treatments for COVID-19 and the next pandemic
  • Strengthening biomedical supply chain resilience and security
  • Shrinking the health and mental wellness gap, particularly for underrepresented populations
  • Reducing healthcare fraud

That’s just a snapshot of the Health FFRDC’s inroads into complex, interconnected health challenges from 2012 to today.

“A key takeaway at this milestone is the powerful link between MITRE’s mission—solving problems for a safer world—and community well-being,” says Jason Providakes, Ph.D., MITRE president and CEO.

This decade more than others amplified health equity’s importance to national security and stability.

Jason Providakes, Ph.D., MITRE president and CEO

Partnerships for Public Good

The Health FFRDC’s accomplishments result from close collaboration with federal organizations that share a vision for a healthier nation and global community. This includes the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Institutes of Health, the Food and Drug Administration, and others in the health ecosystem.

We also engage states, localities, tribes, territories, industry, nonprofits, and academia to co-create solutions that improve the ways people live, work, and play.

“Strong partnerships equip us to meet the ambitious goal of transforming America’s health and human services systems, while staying nimble to address emerging threats,” says Kim Warren, vice president and Health FFRDC director.

Further adding to our impact, says Warren, are the five additional R&D centers MITRE operates, MITRE Labs and innovation centers (our Health and Society Innovation Center, in particular), our independent research, public-private partnerships, and our tech foundation.

For example, “we tapped into MITRE’s deep expertise—in supply chain resiliency, data analysis, acquisition planning, and modeling and simulation—to enable health agencies to get the most impact from multi-billion-dollar investments to address the COVID-19 public health emergency,” Warren adds.

Adapting solutions used in one domain to solve problems in another is a significant way MITRE helps illuminate the most strategic path when it comes to whole-of-nation challenges.

In addition to partners and applied research capabilities, “our talented staff, with their knowledge, systems-thinking, and passion, make MITRE a force multiplier across the health and human services sectors,” Providakes says.

There are now more than 1,000 multidisciplinary technical staff working on Health FFRDC projects, including physicians, registered nurses, infectious disease specialists, and epidemiologists.

Health teams are also comprised of health policy lawyers, economists, communication scientists, and informatics experts. All work side-by-side with experts in cybersecurity, acquisition, workforce strategy, and more in hubs across the country, from Baltimore to Atlanta and McLean, Va., to Bedford, Mass.

The Health Horizon

Looking ahead, the Health FFRDC and HHS will create impact coalitions of national and global scale. Alliances with state and local jurisdictions, industry, and nonprofits accelerate our ability to take on urgent issues and prepare for emerging challenges.

Together, we will: Apply lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic to ensure better preparedness for the next. Advance health and social equity. Build a data-connected healthcare system. Reduce the healthcare cost burden. Speed up biomedical innovation. Tackle the growing mental health crisis. Promote healthier aging. And enable digital health.

These joint efforts will contribute to a healthier future for people across our nation and the world.

Advancing Health Progress 

To recognize 10 years of the Health FFRDC, MITRE highlights the results of wide-ranging projects. We also showcase supporting independent R&D initiatives behind solutions to the most pressing health problems.

Pandemic response and preparedness

Biomedical supply chain resilience

Health data, interoperability, improving patient outcomes

Public health, health equity, disrupting health disparities

Access to healthcare and health insurance

Health policy and research

 Healthcare fraud prevention

Cybersecurity—securing medical devices and patient information