M-RCBG Senior Fellow-Led Study Group: Alexandra Schweitzer

Closing the loop:  Best practices for programs that address health-related social needs

Monday, November 15, 4:30-6:00 (Eastern time)
Register for the Webinar HERE

Programs to address social determinants of health (SDOH) like unstable housing and food insecurity hold great promise to improve health.  Over the past few years, many health plans and provider organizations have developed partnerships with community-based organizations to identify individuals with health-related social needs and connect them to resources that address their needs.  Emerging research demonstrates that some programs drive better health, lower inappropriate health care utilization, and reduce total medical expenses.  For example, providing healthy, plentiful food to people with diabetes may help prevent complications that result in blindness or amputations.  Providing air conditioners to asthmatic children may reduce flare-ups and emergency room visits.

However, SDOH programs face many challenges to “closing the loop” – making sure that individuals with health-related social needs receive the appropriate social resources.  For example, individuals may be reluctant to disclose their needs or accept help.  Cross-sector collaboration and data sharing between health care and community-based organizations is difficult.  Affordable housing is scarce.  Signing up for SNAP is cumbersome.

This study group will outline a model to design and assess SDOH programs that acknowledges and helps overcome these challenges.  A case study of a program with strong results will illustrate the model in practice.  


  • Alexandra Schweitzer, Senior Fellow, Mossavar-Rahmani Center for Business and Government, Harvard Kennedy School
  • Katherine Keir, Hawaii State Director | UnitedHealthcare Community & State

Alexandra Schweitzer headshot photoAlexandra Schweitzer is expert at leading complex new ventures and transformation initiatives from strategy through successful execution.  She combines entrepreneurial passion and drive with the ability to navigate through large organizations and alliances, balancing mission and business discipline.  Her systems perspective is grounded in deep senior leadership experience as a P&L owner, a product portfolio manager, a client services executive, and the head of departments and teams with multi-million-dollar budgets.  Her health care sector experience spans payers, providers, state government, and specialized analytics and managed care organizations. Population health strategist and builder:  Alexandra has built and led value-based integrated systems of care, including tools to address social determinants of health, in innovative accountable care and provider-payer organizations, including: i) A “partnership model” Medicaid ACO under the new Massachusetts delivery system reform program; ii) Iora Health, a venture capital-backed startup nationally known for its relationship-driven, technology-enabled care model, predominantly for Medicare Advantage members; and iii) The Tufts Health Plan Senior Care Options (SCO) program for dual eligible seniors, which she built and ran.  Practical strategic planner:  As a business leader, a consultant, and a hands-on not-for-profit board member, Alexandra has led the development of numerous mission-critical strategic plans.  She emphasizes broad input from stakeholders, alignment of mission and financial goals, and a strong focus on execution to achieve results. Innovative board leader:  Alexandra is the Board President of Goddard House, an assisted living residence in Brookline, MA, where she is driving a major organizational transformation to develop innovative programs serving isolated seniors in the Greater Boston community.  As a LeadingAge board member, she initiated and led a cross-sector workgroup to promote tightly-integrated programs using affordable senior housing as a platform for health.  She was the Board Vice Chair of the Visiting Nurse Association of Boston and led their strategic planning committee. Alexandra has a Master’s in Public Policy from the Harvard Kennedy School and a B.A. in English and American Literature from Brandeis University.  A lifelong learner, she has completed an executive MBA at Columbia University and certificates in strategic selling, large account management, and project management. Her research project as a senior fellow is entitled, Addressing Social Determinants of Health: Why Some Initiatives Thrive and Others Don’t. Her faculty sponsor is Dutch Leonard, George F. Baker, Jr. Professor of Public Management at Harvard Kennedy School, and Eliot I. Snider and Family Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School. Email: aschweitzer@hks.harvard.edu