Innovation

Bringing digital innovation expertise to OSF

From helping to create one of the most influential emergency medicine websites in the world to leading Baxter Healthcare Corporation into the medical sensor space, Dr. Jon Handler has a long background in driving innovation in health care. That’s why Dr. John Vozenilek wanted the digital innovation expert to join the OSF Innovation team.

“Jon has a lot of expertise in bridging the language gap between technologists and clinicians,” said Dr. Vozenilek, vice president and chief medical officer for Innovation and Digital Health. “As a physician and clinical informaticist, he efficiently and effectively brings different disciplines together to spark great ideas.”

Dr. Handler will be the first Senior Fellow to join OSF HealthCare. In this role, he will support each of the OSF Innovation Labs, and act as a strategic adviser to OSF Innovation leadership. He will help advance efforts to develop breakthrough innovation, transforming care for those the organization serves. Dr. Handler will also explore new areas for development.

A passion for technology and data

Dr. Handler trained as an emergency medicine physician in Washington, D.C. As part of a four-year residency program, he was able to sub-specialize in clinical informatics.

“In the early 1990’s, before the web was widely available and more than 20 years before clinical informatics became a board-certifiable specialty, I was fortunate enough to train with some of the founders of emergency medicine informatics,” said Dr. Handler. “They encouraged me to pursue this field of study. As soon as I started applying computer technology and data to health care, I knew that would be my life’s passion.”

Dr. Handler carried his passion with him to various entities. While at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine, he built and deployed software that digitally modernized and helped measurably improve the service provided by their emergency department. He also co-developed one of the most influential emergency medicine websites of that decade.

He then joined MedStar Health’s National Institute of Medical Informatics. While there, he helped develop a combined electronic medical record and analytics system that was widely deployed at Medstar and elsewhere. This includes a local non-profit clinic serving low-income residents in the D.C. area. It was the first hospital-based clinical system to send data to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s BioSense Platform and was deployed for biosurveillance at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Command Center.

When Microsoft acquired the system, Dr. Handler joined the company and led the development of their first commercial product built specifically for the health care enterprise. Dr. Handler then became the Chief Deployment Architect for the company’s Health Solutions Group, where he guided customers in their work to turn data into value.

“Our system was an important element of Mayo Clinic becoming the first certified patient-centered medical home in the state of Minnesota,” said Dr. Handler. “We helped Providence Healthcare launch an early warning system for patients at risk for decompensating while they were in the hospital. We also provided the technology infrastructure for the Wisconsin Health Information Exchange – a network that facilitated patient care while reducing care costs. That work was very satisfying for me.”

Following Microsoft, Dr. Handler joined M*Modal where he led several projects, including the development of real-time computer-assisted physician documentation software for the EMR. He then joined Baxter Healthcare Corporation where he designed and helped lead the execution of the digital strategy for the enterprise. Over the past year, Dr. Handler formed his own health technology and consulting company before joining OSF.

“After visiting the OSF Innovation space, I was impressed with the organization’s commitment to its Mission,” said Dr. Handler. “I was also excited about the hospital system’s dedication to not just provide care the way it’s always been done, but to find new and better ways to deliver care.”

The path forward

As the world becomes even more digitally-enabled and technology-driven, so too must health care organizations that want to provide the best care possible to people wherever they are, and in the most efficient way. The adoption of data science, machine learning, artificial intelligence, applications and digital technologies is of the utmost importance.

OSF HealthCare is already moving in this direction. With the help of a digital innovation expert, OSF Innovation can take that work a step further and consider opportunities it may not have considered before. Dr. Handler is excited about the prospects.

“OSF HealthCare is widely recognized for their work to create and implement transformative clinical innovations, their commitment to patients and their dedication to the populations they serve,” said Dr. Handler. “I strive to do the same thing. When my personal mission matches the mission of my workplace — that’s a great fit.”

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