Carnegie Mellon University

Integrated Innovation Institute

Engineering + Design + Business

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Alumni Spotlight - Minette Vaccariello (MIIPS '06)

Designing better access to health care

Minette Vaccariello is changing the way patients access health care.

“Typically, health care has been very reactive. You go to the doctor when something’s wrong,” Vaccariello explains. As Product Manager at UPMC Enterprises, Vaccariello specializes in solving problems related to social determinacies of health, a term used to describe how disparities on housing, transportation and food insecurity can put a patient’s health at risk.

“Imagine you are a diabetes patient without much access to a healthy diet. If you don’t eat the right foods, you can wind up in the emergency room,” she says.

Vaccariello works on a cross-disciplinary team to develop products and services promoting the adoption of preventative care. The team’s goal is to encourage patients to go for regular check-ups and appointments, to help protect them from high-risk, high-expense episodes later in life. Previously, Vaccariello worked as UPMC Enterprises’ Lead Design Strategist, diving into data and uncovering the information that doctors can use to best advise their patients. Spending time researching and connecting with users, she visited healthcare providers, conducted interviews, and shadowed people on the job to see and experience their workflows. In both experiences, she credits their innovative products and services to working with diverse, integrated teams.

“We learn about new markets, dig into problem spaces, come up with new solutions, and it’s because we have a multidisciplinary team. We’re really bringing unique perspectives as we’re digging into a problem."

The Integrated Innovation Experience

Vaccariello came to Carnegie Mellon to develop a holistic approach to solving problems, "It was a one-year program, just two semesters, so it really fit into my professional career. I was able to bring my technical background as a mechanical engineer and focus on design methodology and design thinking and business acumen as well. All of that was really important in further developing my career."