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Jess Lewis

VP of Innovation, Research and Development

Location: Eden Prairie, MN



BA, computer science, Luther College

Career bio

I lead a team that identifies and drives early-stage product and operations innovations in the areas of health care administration, consumer health management, and health care delivery. I have more than 14 years of experience in population health — leading business, product and technology strategies. 

I drove the work to align the IT strategy and architecture with our business strategy for the consumer-centric, population-health management platform we operate across our clinical and advisory services groups. I’ve been with UnitedHealth Group since 1998, and have held a variety of roles in technology, venture capital, enterprise architecture, and business strategy and planning.

Prior to UnitedHealth Group, I was with Andersen Consulting (now Accenture) for more than eight years working in a variety of industries including transportation, financial services, telecommunications, and of course, health care.

Awards and recognitions

  • Orion Award for Sales Collaboration on Total Population Management
  • ITIL certified
  • SEI Capability Maturity Model certified

Conference speaking engagements

Numerous speaking engagements at Optum, UnitedHealth Group and industry conferences (HIMMS, NGBH)

Personal profile

Why did you choose to work at Optum (instead of any other tech company or health care company)?

The Optum mission to help the health care system work better for everyone sets it apart from many other technology companies. In addition, the size and breadth of Optum allows us to make an enormous difference in society, well beyond almost all other health care companies.  This mission and ability to affect change in the industry, alongside the talent and resources we have at Optum, have kept me here and have continued to energize my work throughout the 19 years I’ve been part of this enterprise.

Is there a personal story behind your decision to work in health care?

My mother was a registered nurse and my father was a Lutheran pastor. Growing up, there was always a sense of mission to serve others and work in a market that improves other people’s lives. While I have been blessed with health, both personally and across my family, I feel a great sense of personal satisfaction in helping to improve our health care system.

What’s one example of a really difficult problem in health care that are you are solving using technology?

Early identification and improved engagement are two of the biggest opportunities to improve population health. Leveraging data far beyond the historical claims-based identification can help us find individuals early. For instance, we’ve shown the ability to identify early-stage Alzheimer’s and depression from voice data. Identification, though, is nothing if we’re not able to better engage these individuals. Tech-driven personalization and multimodal interaction channels allow people to engage with us on their terms. We have an enormous opportunity to improve the engagement of the right individuals at the right time, using technology.

How are you keeping health care human, while applying advanced technology?

While artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning can provide enormous clinical insights into health care improvement opportunities, the personalization that they can drive is as important as we find the best ways to interact and support these individuals. That goes for both patients and providers. Providers, in particular, are struggling with the amount of “hoops” and systems we’re asking them to work through. Driving seamless and efficient workflow solutions for health care providers will be critical to drive value into the provider/patient interactions.

What are you passionate about when you’re not at work?

The obvious answer is my family. I have four absolutely awesome kids and wife of almost 26 years, and I spend as much time as possible with them. Beyond my family, but very related, I’m especially passionate about youth sports. I have coached football, basketball and baseball for over 11 years and love to watch the development physically, emotionally and mentally that kids get through sports.

What advice would you give to your younger self?

Never underestimate the power of relationships, and don’t be afraid to ask for help.


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