A native of Elmwood, Stan Lynall began his public accounting career in Peoria with the firm now known as RSM. Though he began as an auditor, the majority of his nearly 30 years with RSM was focused on providing a broad array of business consulting services. “I was able to assist entrepreneurs across many industries, address their business challenges and find success,” he explains, citing this broad business experience as invaluable in his current role at OSF HealthCare.
After founding and managing his own consulting practice, Lynall was invited by executive leaders at OSF HealthCare to provide input on the organization’s emerging innovation strategy. Having helped structure its venture investment program, he ultimately went to work full-time for the company as vice president of venture investments.
Tell us a little about OSF Ventures and its mission. How does it fit into OSF Innovation and the larger healthcare system?
OSF Ventures is just a piece of a much broader innovation focus and strategy here at OSF HealthCare. We are fortunate in central Illinois—and throughout the broader region that OSF serves in Illinois and Michigan—that the Sisters and other leaders recognize the many ways our patients will benefit from finding new and better ways to provide healthcare services. As happens over time, consumer expectations evolve. Part of this strategy is to utilize new technologies and service offerings to meet these changing expectations.
Of course, in the current healthcare environment, it is incumbent upon healthcare systems to find ways to control costs while at the same time improving care. OSF Ventures plays a role in this strategy by finding and financially supporting emerging technologies and services that we believe can make a difference in how we serve our markets and the outcomes our clinicians can achieve for the patients we serve.
Describe your investment philosophy. How do you choose companies in which to invest?
Our investment philosophy is rather simple. We remain strategically focused on supporting companies that demonstrate an ability to improve how we serve patients and the outcomes we can expect to achieve. In the majority of cases, we find the overall cost burden can be reduced as well. With this philosophy in mind, it is not surprising that a good deal of our diligence is spent interacting with our clinicians and operations experts at OSF HealthCare to validate emerging technologies. We only move forward with an investment when we are comfortable the company offers an opportunity for improvement in how we serve.
Our areas of interest start with the strategic focus categories of OSF HealthCare. This includes—but is not limited to—virtual care, the ongoing digital transformation in healthcare, the emerging power of advanced analytics, and technologies in the space of precision medicine.
How do you work with entrepreneurs to test and refine their solutions?
By being a financial supporter and early adopter of technologies and services, we are well-positioned to partner with and provide input to entrepreneurs and their teams about product and service development and ongoing modifications in order to optimize the benefits to our clinicians and patient populations. This is a win-win situation, in that the companies benefit from this feedback and guidance and are able to leverage this as they commercialize their offerings.
What are some companies in which you have invested, and what types of concepts are they attempting to bring to market? What are your top success stories since OSF Ventures got its start?
A few examples include Regroup Therapy, a company which delivers behavioral health services through a virtual care platform; Epharmix in the digital transformation space, which automates outreach to collect patient-reported outcomes from high-risk and rising-risk patient populations; and lnsightRx, a quantitative pharmacology and precision medicine tool for development of individualized drug protocol.
Gauss Surgical is a company developing a tool for clinicians to precisely measure the amount of blood and fluid loss during procedures. Level Ex develops professional video games to allow clinicians to advance their diagnosis and treatment skills. Renovia is developing solutions to address pelvic floor health issues.
And I would be remiss to not mention two companies that were founded right here in Peoria: Endotronix and Brightwater Medical. Both have evolving medical devices that have the potential to be game changers in their respective sectors, heart failure and ureteral obstruction.
The thing that gets us most excited is to see a technology we have supported actually be deployed and make a real difference to our patients. A good example is the expanded behavioral health services we have been able to offer virtually in some markets through our arrangement with Regroup Therapy. There are growing needs in this space, and the ability to shorten the time for patients to access these needed services through the Regroup platform can be very beneficial in the patient's healthcare journey.
Tell us more about OSF HealthCare's partnerships with regard to innovation activities. How does OSF Ventures utilize those partnerships?
External partnerships are extremely important to our innovation strategy and help us in different ways. We are proud to have been a founder and ongoing supporter of MATTER, a healthcare incubator that supports entrepreneurs in Chicago. With Plug and Play in Silicon Valley, MassChallenge Health Tech in Boston, and MATTER in Chicago, we are exposed to emerging technologies and entrepreneurs that are focused on making a difference in healthcare.
Selectively, we are able to identify and partner with—and sometimes financially support—those companies that we think can make a difference at OSF HealthCare and more broadly throughout the industry. Avia, a healthcare accelerator in Chicago, has also emerged as a national thought leader and service provider, particularly in the digital transformation evolution.
We are also excited about our involvement in the recently announced Innovation Hub in downtown Peoria, as part of the Illinois Innovation Network. The Innovation Hub will be partially dedicated to finding solutions to improve the wellness of underserved populations and hopefully be a catalyst to job creation and economic growth throughout Central Illinois.
How have overall healthcare trends in the U.S. impacted your investment decisions?
With the ever-evolving national healthcare landscape, our fundamental investment philosophy and innovation strategy has been to stay focused on finding ways to improve how we care for patients and optimize healthcare outcomes across various patient populations. We recognize that certain patient segments would like to be served in new and different ways—including a higher degree of focus on wellness and preventive care—and we remain open to developing, supporting and utilizing new and emerging technologies and services to accomplish these goals.
Anything else you’d like to add?
It is a fun time to be part of an industry that is constantly evolving. I am particularly proud to be part of an organization like OSF HealthCare, with such a strong mission of caring and serving that also recognizes the benefits of a strong innovation culture. iBi