Full Width Image Background

Rick Hamilton

Senior Distinguished Engineer

Locations: Charlottesville, VA



MS, electrical engineering, University of Texas
MS, engineering management, Southern Methodist University
BS, electrical engineering, University of Tennessee

Career bio

With over 1,010 issued U.S. patents, I am currently the 14th most prolific inventor in the world. My background and expertise are in cloud, the Internet of Things (IoT), data analytics and artificial intelligence (AI). As an Optum senior distinguished engineer, I work broadly across strategic initiatives — machine learning and deep learning, genomics, blockchain, IoT and cybersecurity — to reach our goals of helping people live healthier lives and making health care work better.

My role at Optum includes maturing its engineering culture and introducing best practices found within other major technology companies. I defined an Optum Invention Program and work to mature UHG's institutional capabilities and transform our workforce for sustained success. I have over two decades of experience successfully transforming the invention and innovation strategies of corporations and non-governmental organizations, working on these topics in over 30 countries.

Awards and recognitions

  • AAAS-Lemelson Foundation Invention Ambassador
  • Focused Ultrasound Foundation Leadership Council

Conference speaking engagements

  • The Three Habits of Successful Innovators; U.S. Patent and Trademark Office Society Annual Keynote; Washington, DC; 2020
  • An American Innovation Story; U.S. Patent and Trademark Office; Washington, DC; 2020
  • The Inventor’s Journey; UnitedHealth Group Dev Days; Minnesota 2019
  • AI’s Role in Addressing Global Healthcare Challenges; American Association for the Advancement of Science; Washington, DC; 2019
  • The Role of Blockchain and Artificial Intelligence in Focused Ultrasound; International Symposium on Focused Ultrasound; Virginia; 2018
  • The Rise of Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence, CFA Institute Events; Johannesburg and Cape Town, South Africa; 2018
  • The Rise of Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence; Focused Ultrasound Foundation; Virginia; 2017
  • Disrupting Traditional Industries; Darden Business School (University of Virginia) Executive Education Series; Virginia; 2017
  • Virtualizing the Future; American Association for the Advancement of Science; Washington, DC; 2016
  • Cognitive IoT:  Infusing the World with Possibility; Electronics Global Leadership Forum; Taipei, Taiwan; 2016
  • Cognitive IoT:  Infusing the World with Possibility; Campus Party; Guadalajara, Mexico; 2016
  • The Global Innovation Economy; Israel Brain Tech Conference; Tel Aviv, Israel; 2015


  • “Foundations for Smarter Cities,” IBM Journal of Research and Development, July 2010
  • Numerous Technical Disclosure Bulletins and blogs on diverse topics


I have over 1,010 issued patents to date. 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)?

As I learned about Optum and its mission, I became convinced that this company and its leadership were committed to rapidly maturing technology to move health care forward. I’ve spent 25 years in the tech industry, so I’m accustomed to cut-throat competition. But coming to Optum, I was struck to find “compassion” is a core value. That value is lived here every day. We’re competitive, but more importantly, we’re committed to improving health care for everybody.

How are you using technology to solve the most difficult problems in health care?

I have the wonderful opportunity to work with innovators across a spectrum of solutions. This includes using advances in machine learning to help identify the potential for opioid abuse or readmission at skilled-nursing facilities. It also includes leveraging IoT technologies to transform patient monitoring from episodic, geographically-bound data points into frequent, location-agnostic experiences, improving outcomes and delivering insights. It includes work in genomics, to improve patient outcomes. And it includes cybersecurity advances, to help secure and protect patient identities.

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

I’m passionate about my family and about maintaining an active lifestyle. I run, ride my bike or lift weights daily. And I’m passionate about continuous learning, always surrounded by books and reminding myself how much I still have to grow.

What advice would you give to your younger self?

Don’t sweat the small stuff, and avoid artificial drama. Gravitate toward people with big ideas and thoughtful questions. Listen more, pause before responding to provocation, and always be thankful. Gratitude is key.


Get the latest tech insights and deep-dives

Color Block



Join us

Help us solve the most wicked problems in health care through research, development and emerging technologies.

See open positions