Going the Extra Mile
It started with an urgent call from the Los Angeles County Department of Health Services (DHS)…
At the end of June 2019, the L.A. County Department of Health Services told Alluma that an estimated 5,000 patients needed to move out of one medical home clinic by July 1. DHS began assembling all the information on a Thursday and then, bright and early on a Friday, Alluma began the work of transferring patients from one medical home to several others by the Monday deadline. Alluma launched into action, while making sure to secure each patient’s pertinent health information. And with hard work and dedication, Alluma made the deadline.
A last-minute urgent request came in from Los Angeles DHS via a critical-level ticket.
Rising to the OccasionAlluma was prepared to develop a thoughtful, efficient solution to this complex problem and Karthik Ponnala was the tenacious problem-solver who rose to the challenge.
Karthik interacts with the code of OeA. No changes happen to the platform that Karthik does not know about.
Ponnala is a lead software developer for Los Angeles clients at Alluma. He writes, edits, updates, and maintains the code of One-e-App (OeA), one of Alluma’s web-based enrollment and eligibility solutions.
One-e-App is one of Alluma's solutions for connecting eligible people to benefits and support.
Ponnala — along with developers, business analysts, and others on the Solutions Delivery Team — ensures that Alluma’s solutions run smoothly for our clients while overseeing requested changes to the OeA platform for LA County.
Ponnala recalled his first thought after receiving the request from DHS: “If we don’t address the issue immediately, thousands of people are going to be without a medical home clinic.”
Alongside his fellow team members, Ponnala handled the analysis, coding, testing, and verification required to move the patients to different clinics within the DHS network. This involved working and communicating with LA County to address any issues, like a patient’s information appearing one way on the front end of the application and being different on the back end.
After moving the patients to their new medical home clinics, Ponnala performed unit testing on random samples of patients using their unique identification numbers to see if they were successfully being moved to the new agency via the front-end interface.
“I verified whether the patient was transferred to the correct clinic and which date they would be transferred to that clinic,” Ponnala said.
Typically, a week or more would be given to perform the task of testing, verification, and analysis; Ponnala and his team accomplished this within a 24-hour time frame given the urgent status of this situation. Aware of the seriousness of the circumstances, Ponnala needed to transfer these patients while being mindful of everyone who would be impacted by this urgent shift.
Karthik Ponnala, lead software developer for One-e-App (OeA)
“It’s the patients, it’s the client, and it’s the vendors [service providers],” Ponnala said. All parties involved needed follow up, but especially the patients. They needed new ID cards with their clinic locations so they had a place to go for care and so they could get necessary medications.
This responsiveness is an essential part of who we are as an organization, and our people-first approach sets us apart from others in our space.
“Karthik dropped all that he was working on to make this a priority,” Alluma Sr. Business Analyst Ker Walker said. “We are nimble. We’re able to flex to the client’s needs.” Walker, who manages Alluma’s OeA Los Angeles County and Alameda County clients, added, “We focused on the end goal.”
At Alluma, we combine our human-centered approach with the institutional knowledge derived from our policy and technology expertise. Ponnala had to understand how Los Angeles County client applications were created in the OeA platform, being mindful of both the front and back end of the application and the impact on eligibility these changes would have on the patients.
This combination of technological know-how and policy understanding means that we can move faster to develop solutions to our clients’ problems, while always remembering why the work we do is so important.
For Karthik Ponnala, digging deeper means, “Trying to understand what is at stake and keeping in mind what happens if a person is not able to get benefits.”
Tommaso Esmanech, general manager of OeA, explains our undaunted approach to connecting people to the healthcare and benefits they need: “Connecting people to meaningful healthcare and support is our priority. As a social enterprise with heart, our organization is always ready to tackle whatever challenge our clients are facing and partner with them to develop the right solution.”