From Healthcare Journal to Mobile Clinics

I want to tackle the systemic problems that are plaguing our healthcare system and preventing patients from accessing the high quality, affordable care they deserve.

It goes without saying that Harvard students go above and beyond in their extracurricular activities.  This is certainly the case for Khin-Kyemon Aung, a junior Human Evolutionary Biology concentrator and resident of Quincy House. Since high school, Khin has devoted a large portion of her life to research.  Through her work, she has contributed to clinical medicine on a number of issues at the Cleveland Clinic and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. Recently, however, Khin has discovered a new passion: healthcare policy.

Her interest stems from an encounter where she witnessed a patient denied healthcare due to her inability to afford her treatment. From that point forward, Khin knew that her true passion lay in policy research, particularly with respect to the affordability and accessibility of healthcare. She told Brevia, “I want to tackle systemic problems that are plaguing our healthcare system and preventing patients from accessing the high quality, affordable care they deserve.”

To gain first-hand experience in the field, Khin will work with the Massachusetts Executive Office of Health and Human Services this summer. Her project will focus on the implementation and design of the Massachusetts’ State Innovation Model grant, a $44 million multi-year award funded by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation to support states in testing innovative payment models.

In addition, Khin will soon begin working with the Family Van, a mobile clinic affiliated with Harvard Medical School and aimed at providing convenient curbside care in a comfortable setting. Khin notes that among certain groups of patients, there are high levels of distrust around hospitals making mobile clinics an important asset to communities. She explains, “Mobile clinics can serve as a critical link between social services and health services, largely preventing high-risk patients from slipping through the cracks of the preexisting primary and preventative care systems.” However, while the 2,000 mobile clinics in the country are essential to the communities they serve, they often function on the “outskirts of the system.” In the coming months, Khin would like to study different methods of integrating these clinics into the healthcare system, an issue that has yet to be adequately addressed.

Recently, Khin found another way to combine her love of research and her passion for healthcare improvement. She serves as Managing Assistant Editor of a new national health policy journal called Healthcare: The Journal of Delivery Science and Innovation, which, in her words, “provides a vehicle for dissemination of cutting-edge research on innovation in healthcare.” The founders of the journal and Co-Editors-in-Chief are Sachin Jain, Chief Medical Information and Innovation Officer of Merck and Co., and Amol Navathe, fellow at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School. Healthcare joins the ranks of other prestigious journals devoted to addressing healthcare innovation, including the New England Journal of Medicine and Health Affairs.

Khin has been with the journal since its early development. As Managing Assistant Editor, she interfaces with the authors, reviewers, and editors and is intimately involved in the journal’s outreach and development. “The mission of the journal is three-fold: to disseminate research, to build a collaborative community of stakeholders invested in improving healthcare delivery, and to share ways to translate research into practical implementation,” Khin said. “We know our healthcare system is broken–now we need to focus on finding solutions to the problems at hand. We cannot achieve success unless we work together and share best practices.” Along with the rest of the Healthcare team, Khin believes that they can turn research into writing that can have a lasting impact on the healthcare landscape. With their help, perhaps this vision can become a reality.

The writer can be reached at mkabel@college.harvard.edu.