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Mike Jacobs

Technology Fellow and Senior Vice President of Engineering


Location: Eden Prairie, MN

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Education

BS, electrical engineering, University of Illinois at Chicago (math minor and James Scholar; focus on digital design, antenna design and electromagnetics)

Career bio

I lead the blockchain initiatives for UnitedHealth Group including Optum and UnitedHealthcare. I am a cofounder of the Synaptic Health Alliance, editorial board member of a peer-reviewed health care blockchain journal, international blockchain standards contributor, chair of the IEEE 2418.6 Blockchain Subgroup for Provider Information, a member of several UHG Patent Review Boards, and a frequent conference speaker.

In my previous role, I was the portfolio architect responsible for the strategic architectural direction of the risk, quality and network solutions line of business and the approach taken by many of the projects implementing the strategy. I also advised the organization direction for scaled agile, architecture governance and technology standards.

I joined Optum as an application architect and technical lead. I played a significant role in major initiatives including: the Parallel Analytics Framework (which led to a patent and Ingenix Innovation Award), the Analytic Common Capability (a shared big data framework to run frequently used health care analytics), Optum Care Suite, Optum One, and the Optum Scalable Agile Method.

Prior to joining Optum, I was the chief architect for Mayo Collaborative Services Incorporated (MCSI) and the Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathology at Mayo Clinic, where I led the development of a specimen tracking system and the enterprise architecture of a large laboratory information system program.

Awards and recognitions

  • Da Vinci Award — awarded by the governor of Iowa for innovative use of web technology

Conference speaking engagements

2019 through May

  • HIMSS 2019
  • Consensus 2019
  • 2nd Annual Blockchain Healthcare Summit

2018

  • CES Digital Health Summit
  • HIMSS Interoperability Showcase
  • HIMSS Executive Institute Breakfast
  • UHG Communicators Conference
  • WEDI National Spring Conference 
  • HIMSS Webinar
  • Leerink Healthcare Technology Summit
  • Think IT-ITL
  • Blockchain Health Summit + Tradeshow 
  • HIT Policy Update Webinar
  • JPMorgan's Sixth Annual Healthcare Advisory Council event 
  • ConVerge2Xcelerate - Blockchain in Healthcare Today
  • Distributed Health 2018
  • Keynote: 32nd Annual Minnesota Venture Conference

2017

  • University of St. Thomas Innovation Salon
  • DokChain Alliance meeting
  • ICEX Digital Innovation Conference
  • Blockchain Standards Meeting
  • Healthcare Blockchain Summit
  • Consensus 2017 NYC
  • Amazon Blockchain Event
  • Optum Summit
  • Xifin CIO Roundtable
  • Optum Analytics Conference
  • Distributed Health 2017
  • HALICON Conference
  • UHC Healthcare Technology Advisory Council

Prior to 2017

  • 2012 OpenGroup Conference
  • 2015 OpenGroup Conference

Publications

Multiple articles published in Java Developer Journal, available at http://mikejacobs.sys-con.com :

Patents

I have three blockchain patents, with one issued at Optum: Apparatuses and methods for parallel analytics. See the complete list at the USPTO.

Personal profile

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

I get to help invent a future where health care serves everyone. I joined Optum after working at Mayo Clinic, where I was focused largely on internal IT projects affecting the patients there, and I am passionate about developing commercial software for health care to affect the largest population possible. I was impressed by the scope of domains and technologies used by Optum to deliver value to the overall health care system. The size of Optum and UHC convinced me of the vast opportunities to contribute to improving health care.
 

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

Today, managed care organizations, health systems, physicians, diagnostics services and other health care stakeholders maintain separate copies of health care provider demographic data. This can result in time-intensive and expensive reconciliation processes when differences arise. An estimated $2.1 billion is spent annually across the health care system chasing and maintaining provider data. 

I co-founded the Synaptic Health Alliance to demonstrate how sharing data across health care organizations on blockchain technology can improve data accuracy, streamline administration and improve access to care.

As our first use case, our alliance is addressing the high cost of health care provider data management, testing the premise that administrative costs and data quality can be improved by sharing provider data inputs and changes made by different parties across a blockchain. 
 

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

I focus on the care a patient needs and the experience of the provider to deliver that care. From an engineering perspective, making a positive impact on the health care system starts with technology applied to populations, but ends with helping a provider deliver exceptional care to an individual patient.
 

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

A few things consume my time at home including playing role-playing games, riding my road bike and building robots based on Arduino and Raspberry Pi.
 

What advice would you give to your younger self?

Keep your skills current and relevant and you’ll succeed in anything you choose to pursue.

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