Covering the Land of Lincoln

Expanding hospital-based innovation hubs to promote ‘what if’ solutions

PEORIA, Ill., Sept 19, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — Most people in their daily jobs don’t see themselves as innovators and that’s certainly the case with OSF HealthCare Mission Partners (employees). But the Peoria, Illinois-based Catholic integrated health system is working to change that by expanding hospital-based innovation hubs.

OSF Innovation Senior Vice President Becky Buchen says frontline caregivers are living those challenges every day, so it makes sense to tap them for solutions.

“When you really start to leverage the ideas that they have, because they’re at the front line of care, they’re seeing the challenges that are being faced every day, whether it’s by our patients or their fellow Mission Partners, and then bringing forward those ideas really starts to advance that innovative culture. Then they build on each other’s ideas and that really supports the transformation of health care.”

Buchen says experts in the division she oversees researched and found a platform called Ideawake – to solicit and vet possible solutions to pressing issues facing caregivers and patients. Buchen says the platform provides a safe space that makes it easy and fun to crowdsource ideas.

“You start out with a problem that you want to solve, but then it acts very much like a social media platform. So I can bring forward my ideas. Other people can vote up my ideas or add to my ideas, and that starts to build great excitement. It’s a very intuitive platform; very easy to use so it’s not intimate.”

Zack VanKeulen is the director of Emergency Services for OSF HealthCare Saint Paul Medical Center in Mendotatwo hours southwest of Chicago, Illinois. VanKeulen was a finalist for the first Trailblazer Challenge launched at a hospital-based hub in the I-80 region.

VanKeulen says even if the solution he pitched in a ‘Shark Tank’ style presentation isn’t fully developed, the experience was worth the effort. He enjoyed the coaching sessions available through Ideawake and gained useful skills along the way.

“You learn about things outside of health care, like software design and coding and the amount of money and resources it takes to create some of these apps. And those things may not be possible, so you have to bite off a smaller piece than you originally thought was possible. But in the end, if you can innovate and make a change that positively impacts the patient’s experience, then it’s a win-win situation,” says VanKeulen.

OSF Saint Paul Medical Center President Dawn Trumpeter what an early champion of innovation hubs. For the Trailblazer Challenge, leaders solicited solutions for improving processes when patients are discharged from the hospital. The best solutions will get support for development, testing, and could potentially be rolled out to other OSF hospitals or clinics.

Trompeter explains, “If the pilot is successful and increasing those experiences for our patients, then that’s something we can spread across our entire market region and then across the Ministry to enhance our patient experience across the entire health system.”

The hub has a designated space but also houses mobile, virtual reality (VR) headsets that can be used for patient or provider education. For example, Trumpeter says a patient with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) can be immersed in their own body to view their lungs in 3D.

“That’s just one example. It could be for diabetes, it could be a number of different things, but really engaging our patients in their own health care and helping them understand in layman’s terms, really what happens and what their diagnosis may be about or how they may be able to help keep themselves healthy through that (seeing the impact).”

Innovation hubs can provide cost-savings and help ensure hospitals continue to operate in challenging times. Buchen says they can also be an economic engine for communities, particularly if a solution – a product or process – is commercialized. The best ideas emerging from the hubs will get support from OSF Innovation, based at the Jump Simulation & Education Center in Peoria. The center is home to experts such as data scientists, engineers, performance improvement and legal specialists among others.

“It might be that we need to better understand the data. It might be that we take a deeper dive into the process as we transform the ideas they’re bringing forward. It may be that the idea they brought forward is something so unique that we need to make sure that we have the intellectual property protected for them,” according to Buchen.

VanKeulen agrees the best way to transform health care is from the inside out, and having support is important because those engaged in it every day care deeply and want to improve patients’ experience.

“You hear the general public saying that the health care system is broken. So this is members of the health care system, Mission Partners from OSF, trying to make that repair that’s so desperately needed in our country today.”

Additional assets, including photos and videos are available on the OSF Newsroom.

OSF HealthCare is an integrated health system owned and operated by The Sisters of the Third Order of St. Francis, headquartered in Peoria, Illinois. OSF HealthCare employs nearly 24,000 Mission Partners in 150 locations, including 15 hospitals – 10 acute care, five critical access – with 2,089 licensed beds, and two colleges of nursing throughout Illinois other Michigan. The OSF HealthCare physician network employs more than 1,500 primary care, specialist and advanced practice providers. OSF HealthCare, through OSF Home Care Services, operates an extensive network of home health and hospice services. It also owns Pointcore, Inc., comprised of health care-related businesses; OSF HealthCare Foundation, the philanthropic arm for the organization; and OSF Ventures, which provides investment capital for promising health care innovation startups. More at

OSF Innovation was launched in 2016 and includes a multidisciplinary team that inspires, mentors and partners to transform care for patients and providers. With expertise in everything from ideation to commercialization, the division designs agile solutions, connecting everyday needs with inventive approaches and bold advances.

Contacts: Colleen Reynolds | Media Relations Coordinator, OSF HealthCare | cell: (309) 825-7255


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