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Partnership is part of a larger statewide research and economic development initiative
About 70 undergraduate and graduate students and faculty throughout the University of Illinois System came to the Jump Trading Simulation & Education Center to gain a better understanding of OSF HealthCare and the challenges health care faces in delivering affordable care for all. The event is part of the health care system’s partnership with Discovery Partners Institute (DPI), an interdisciplinary research hub led by the U of I to foster economic development through innovation.

“Moving forward with this work exemplifies the importance we place in the DPI program and the role we are taking in leading the transformation of health care,” said Ryan Spain, Vice President of Economic Development for OSF HealthCare. “We believe engaging some of the smartest people in our state could ultimately result in solutions that could positively influence our overall regional economy.”

OSF HealthCare was the first corporate sponsor of DPI and is now taking the lead in launching the first course where faculty and students across the U of I will work with OSF Innovation to solve health care challenges. The partnership builds on the existing relationship with the University of Illinois at Chicago Innovation Center.

“OSF has a history of being bold in its approach to health care that goes back more than 140 years. Now with DPI and the UIC Innovation center, OSF moves forward again boldly,” said John Vozenilek, MD, Chief Medical Officer and Vice President of Simulation at Jump. “With economic development for our Illinois communities as its focus, these bright young leaders will no doubt design and discover new approaches to serve the neediest, and create sustainable models. This could only happen with this first of its kind partnership between OSF HealthCare and the entire university System.”

The faculty and students helping OSF Innovation develop innovative health care solutions come from a variety of education programs including industrial and mechanical engineering, graphic and industrial design, marketing and public health. Some are working towards their masters and specifically sought out this project with OSF HealthCare.

“Our graduate students have the opportunity to choose from a variety of projects with our other industry partners, but they’ve chosen to work with OSF HealthCare because they believe they can make a positive impact for its patients and hopefully, the industry as a whole,” said Robert Zolna, Clinical Associate Professor of Design Research at UIC. “They are here because of their passion.”

One group is being charged with creating new ways to address social isolation through the promotion of connectivity between patients and their communities, families, clinicians and health care facilities. Another class will ideate around bringing the community health worker concept into the 21st century, making them precision-guided and digitally enabled in an effort to deliver care where and when people need it.

“The problems these faculty and students are taking on are well-known throughout the health care industry, but there has yet to be a system that’s been able to address them for our most vulnerable populations with a sustainable, spreadable solution,” said Sarah de Ramirez, MD, Chief Medical Officer and Vice President of Clinical Innovation at OSF Innovation. “We hope that getting the perspective of bright, excited and diverse minds outside of health care will lead to solutions we’ve never thought of before.”

The partnership with the U of I is one of the many mechanisms OSF HealthCare is leveraging as it works to address the main issues that negatively impact the health of its most vulnerable populations. OSF Innovation created the Complex Solutions Innovation or CSI team, a multidisciplinary group, to lead this work in partnership with Monmouth, Peoria and Pontiac Mission Partners and communities throughout the Ministry.

The faculty and students from the U of I system will be working on health care solutions throughout the end of the school year.