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John Fillman

Innovation Lead

Location: Eden Prairie, MN



AAS, multimedia and computer graphics, Minnesota School of Business

Career bio

I started my career in the family T-shirt printing factory as an apprentice graphic designer, following in my father’s footsteps to become a second-generation graphic designer, serial entrepreneur and advocate of hyper-local economics.  

Today, I am sharing my experience as a health care innovator, start-up advisor and patient-centric product and service designer to help Optum shape the health care ecosystem in a way that makes health care work better for everyone.

Personal profile

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

Health care was always a topic of conversation at the dinner table, as I have five nurses and a doctor of pharmacy in my immediate family. In 2009, my mother had reached Medicare age, the Affordable Care Act was in the news, and there was a lot of discussion around pre-existing conditions. Around that time, I was invited to join a team in charge of designing a new UHC digital experience that would help patients interact with the health care system. I was excited to bring my human-centric design expertise into the patient-centric world, and engage in meaningful work that impacts people’s lives. 

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

I am the innovation lead on the Family Link project, a partnership with the Special Needs Initiative to innovate around families of children with rare, complex and multiple conditions. 

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

As a practitioner of human-centered design, I rely on empathy to connect with people and their problems. 

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

Visiting our loved ones is more important than ever now that I have a 2-year-old daughter in my life. My wife and I spend a lot of time traveling to see family in northern Minnesota, as well as my wife’s family in Bosnia and Herzegovina. I am an avid consumer of audiobooks. On the weekends, I enjoy long runs with my daughter in a jogging stroller.

What advice would you give to your younger self?

Stay curious. Curiosity is the leading driver of innovation.


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