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

How can listening to participants improve programs to address social needs?

Monday, April 18, 2022 4:00-5:30pm (Eastern time)
Register for the Webinar HERE

Many social programs struggle to connect participants with resources.  Only 30-80% of the people eligible for health-promoting social welfare programs actually receive the supports.  Some health care provider-sponsored programs to address social drivers of health (SDOH) reach even fewer of the intended recipients.  The reasons range from byzantine bureaucratic requirements to inadequate digital and transportation resources to access services.

One strategy to mitigate such barriers is to understand them from the participants’ vantage point and use their perspectives to improve program results.  This study group will present frameworks, case studies, and practical recommendations about listening to participants and translating their insights into actions and program improvement. 

The panelists will discuss:

  • Frameworks for “patient-centered” health care
  • Lessons from SDOH program participant research
  • Understanding patients’ reluctance to enroll in a free program to help them avoid unnecessary visits to the emergency room
  • Leveraging the user experience to increase access to a social safety net program.


  • Alexandra Schweitzer , Senior Fellow, Mossavar-Rahmani Center for Business & Government, Harvard Kennedy School
  • Alex Denniston, User Strategist
  • Justin Lai, Design Researcher, Formerly with the California Office of Digital Innovation

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