Mission control


Texas Children’s Health Plan launches Mission Control to better coordinate care

Texas Children’s Health Plan serves more than 400,000 members across 54 counties in the northeastern and southeastern portions of Texas. Personalizing and coordinating care for those members takes dedication, passion and innovation.

“We’re all about optimizing the care we give our patients and our members,” said Veronica Parson, manager of care coordination for Mission Control. “We want to do everything we can to provide the right care at the right time for the right reason.”

An effort implemented in 2019 to help achieve that goal was the creation of Mission Control, a centralized area where key members of various teams within the Health Plan gather to – in real time – address member concerns and better coordinate their care.

“We should all be very proud of this remarkable accomplishment,” said Texas Children’s President and Chief Executive Officer Mark Wallace. “It is because of our One Amazing Team and each team member’s steadfast commitment to quality and excellence that we were able to reach this achievement. Thank you for your dedication to Texas Children’s Hospital and to the patients and families we serve.”

Answering the call

Much of what is done at Mission Control focuses on helping people who call into the Health Plan’s Call Center. The Call Center receives more than 500,000 calls annually from its members who are looking for answers to a myriad of questions about their insurance coverage and health care options.

Call Center service representatives taking those calls now have access to new and improved technology with Mission Control that allows them to consolidate data about a member onto one screen, enabling them to really hone in on what those members’ needs are right away.

If a service representative needs help assisting a member, they can tap a variety of resources in Mission Control, including Andrea Gomez, a registered nurse with Texas Children’s Health Plan, who also is a trained care coordinator and serves as an embedded clinician in Mission Control. Gomez can anticipate certain needs that a non-clinician might not be able to identify, thus helping members access the care they need.

“This is a great opportunity for us to offer our members what they need and more,” Gomez said.


Call Center employees also can employ the aid of representatives positioned in Mission Control from the Health Plan’s Business Intelligence Analytics Department. These representatives use a mapping software called ArcGIS to help connect members with provider resources that are convenient to where they live and work. The software also can be used during emergency and/or disaster situations to identify members in the affected area so that Health Plan representatives can reach out and see if they are OK or need anything.

“ArcGIS provides us with a great deal of valuable information about the area in which our members live so that we can better provide them with convenient care,” said Charles Summerhill, an applications architect with the Health Plan. “It’s a tremendously helpful tool.”

Playing the field

In addition to improving the way Health Plan Call Center representatives meet the needs of members who call in with questions, Mission Control is helping representatives who are in the field touching base with members who are actively receiving or seeking care.

A group of care coordinators in Mission Control and others in the field work together to reach out to those members to determine if they are getting what they need. Do they need community resources? Do they need help getting a prescription? Do they need access to home care?

Axel Lopez, a field coordinator with the Health Plan, is based at Texas Children’s Hospital’s Emergency Center in the Medical Center. Lopez’s primary mission is to meet with any and all Health Plan members who come through the Emergency Center for care to see if they are getting what they need and are optimizing the services that are offered to them.

Lopez said having Mission Control at his disposal has been a big help in setting up members with community and health system resources. “Mission Control has definitely made my job easier,” he said.

Another group of care coordinators go out and visit members in their homes. Representatives in Mission Control are available to help them locate and coordinate resources. They also are there to help service representatives stay safe while they are out and about.

Using ArcGIS, analysts in Mission Control can stay connected with member service representatives in the field and get them information about what’s happening in the area they are serving. Service representatives can use the information to either avoid an incident in the area or get to safety.

Bright future

Texas Children’s Health Plan Vice President Anna Mateja said Mission Control will continue to grow and expand its ways of reaching members and helping them in the best way possible.

“Health care historically has been about a face-to-face encounter, but with the technology that’s being made available to us, we’re being challenged to figure out how to deploy health care in different ways,” Mateja said. “Mission Control is the place in the organization where we can experiment with creative ways of delivering health care.”

Texas Children’s Hospital launched a Mission Control in the Medical Center to help streamline the process of transporting and transferring patients to and from the hospital. The communication hub has achieved its goal, making the transporting and transferring process more efficient and effective for both the caregiver and the patient. Read more about that Mission Control here.