OSF HealthCare Nourishing Innovative Ideas

I am a practicing physical therapist within OSF HealthCare. It was about five years ago, I came up with an innovative idea to improve outcomes for patients with lower back pain. Physical therapists spend much of their time performing manual therapy techniques to the spine to facilitate pain reduction, improve range of motion and promote healing, all of which creates better outcomes for the patient. However, due to increased restrictions by insurance companies, physical therapists receive fewer visits to treat each patient. Fewer visits reduce the exposure patients have to manual therapy techniques which may influence how long it takes for patients to recover. It may also influence the overall reoccurrence rate of low back pain.

innovation solution to reduce back pain. I, along with fellow physical therapist Jana Bresch, developed a solution to this ongoing problem. The Invertabelt is a self-application tool that allows patients to perform similar manual therapy techniques they would receive in a clinical setting, but now in the comfort of their own homes. This helps patients increase the exposure time to clinical manual therapy techniques, thus promoting quicker reduction and/or elimination of back pain. We were so confident in our product, we developed a business called The Oakford Group, LLC and applied for and received two patents. The questions was, how do we sell this thing and who do we sell it to?

Enter OSF HealthCare. The hospital system’s innovation partnerships and ventures teams also thought we had a great idea and financially backed us to participate in Brave Launch, a business accelerator led by the Illinois Small Business Development Center at Bradley University and sponsored by OSF. The program pushes select teams out into the real world to gain insight and develop their business models through customer discovery.

Customer Discovery

When launching new products or ideas, many new businesses have not taken the time to identify a set of customers. This matters because you could have a product that goes to market only to find it doesn’t meet the needs of any customers. Brave Launch gives you the tools and mentorship you need to talk to potential clients, get their feedback and determine whether you need to entirely redevelop your idea or make small tweaks before real production begins.

The seven-week program gave us the confidence to continue with our business model and helped us create different versions of our marketing strategy. It also introduced us to potential funding options and prepared our business for how to accept different types of financing. Brave Launch culminates in a so-called “pitch day” which is much like an episode of Shark Tank. We had the opportunity to present our innovative products to organized investor organizations and answer pertinent questions about our business models.

To our surprise, we actually won the competition for Best Business Model.  The Oakford Group is now at the point where at least two of the venture groups we presented to are continuing to evaluate The Invertabelt with potential for financial backing.

OSF Creating an Innovative Culture

As we wait for different investor groups to do their due diligence on our company and product, it’s amazing to see how far we’ve come in such a short amount of time. It wouldn’t have been possible without the continued efforts of OSF HealthCare to support Mission Partners like me with innovative ideas. OSF was one of the major sponsors for the Brave Launch project. The organization also funded my company’s entry fee to participate.

It’s my hope that my story will encourage others within OSF HealthCare to share their concepts for improving health care. It’s the people on the front lines of care delivery who understand everyday hindrances to care and possibly have many ideas to make care more effective and cost efficient. They just need to know that OSF is a resource and advocate for those wanting to make those ideas a reality.

OSF OnCall – Private, Convenient, Fast.

Vicki Weatherington, of Peoria, is a big fan of OSF OnCall. She and her family use the service quite often for the convenience. Vicki, an OSF ConstantCare nurse, has been in nursing for over 26 years and knows when she sees quality medical care.

“Being a nurse, family and friends call you when they are sick asking what to do for this sickness or that sickness,” Vicki said. “Often times, I just refer them to OSF OnCall because I know they will receive the care they need.”

Care from the comfort of home

The most recent time she used OSF OnCall was in December 2016. Vicki came down with an upper-respiratory illness, including a cough, aches and pains.

She visited the OSF OnCall website, requested an appointment via FaceTime and a provider called her back within 15 minutes to begin their appointment together.

“I was feeling really miserable. It was bitter cold that day and didn’t want to have to get ready and drive to the nearest urgent care or wait to be seen by a doctor,” Vicki said.

What Vicki likes the most about OSF OnCall is the fact that the provider will tell you right away if they can treat your condition or not. If they can’t treat you, you won’t be charged.

“After the provider assessed me and asked a number of questions, she advised me to see an in-office provider. So, I was not charged.”

Vicki’s son also uses the OSF OnCall service while away at college.

“It’s scary not being there when your child is sick,” she said. “I’m used to being able to help him when he needs medical care. When he uses OSF OnCall, I know he can be seen quickly and be treated by quality doctors or nurse practitioners. And that makes me feel better.”

Should you get the pneumonia vaccination?

Pneumonia Flow ChartAre you at risk for pneumonia this winter? Pneumonia and flu are deadly illnesses that reach their peak during the winter months.

According to The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 900,000 Americans get pneumonia every year and 45,000 to 63,000 people die from pneumonia-related complications. While a flu shot is encouraged every year, not everybody needs a pneumonia vaccine, says Brian Curtis, MD, director of Specialty Care Physician Practice for OSF Medical Group in Peoria.

“The odds of getting pneumonia as a young, healthy adult are pretty low, while the odds of getting the flu are pretty good,” Dr. Curtis says. “Immunizing is a very advantageous way to help prevent a lot of illnesses. You protect yourself and you also protect those around you. There will always be a subsection of the population that will be vulnerable to pneumonia due to medical conditions or because they cannot get vaccinated. Getting yourself vaccinated also helps keep that vulnerable population safer.”

Young, healthy adults who unfortunately get pneumonia can expect to experience cough, fever and a prescription for about 5-7 days’ worth of antibiotics. However, people with medical conditions are at a higher risk of complications that can lead to hospitalization and even death.

Vaccine types

There are two types of pneumonia vaccine. The first vaccine is the pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV13). The second vaccine is the pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine (PPSV23). Healthy adults under the age of 65 don’t need either one. However, depending on your health, you might need to get both to protect yourself from pneumonia and any possibly dangerous complications.


This vaccine is given to infants in a series of shots until the age of 15 months. The U.S. government recommends that a person receives one dose between the age of 6 and 18. Between the ages of 19 and 64, anybody with a blood disorder, a damaged or missing spleen, a compromised immune system, kidney disease or cancer, should get this vaccine.

At age 65, everyone should get this vaccine and follow it up with a dose of the other pneumonia vaccine type at least one year later.


Like the other vaccine type, this vaccine should be given to all people age 65 or older. Anybody age 19 or older who is a smoker, or who has asthma, should get this vaccine, too.

People between the ages of 2 and 64 should get this vaccine, too, if they have heart disease, lung disease, sickle cell anemia, diabetes, alcoholism, a compromised immune system, a damaged or missing spleen or cancer.*

For more details about who should get the pneumonia vaccine, and when they should get it, please visit the CDC website and the HHS website.

Unlike the flu vaccine, adults do not need to get the pneumonia shot every year. The pneumonia vaccines typically last about 10 years, according to Dr. Curtis. We have provided a convenient chart to help you determine if you are at a higher risk of complications and should contact your doctor’s office to ask about the pneumonia vaccine.

If you have any questions or concerns about whether or not you need the pneumonia vaccine, please call your doctor’s office. Don’t have a primary care physician? Find one here.

* Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)


Quick Action Saves Mendota Golfer’s Swing

dsc_4043-copy2John Kuchta, of Mendota, was loading up his neighbor’s tractor to take to the shop. What he thought would be a simple job, turned out to almost cost him the full use of his left arm.

As John was trying to load the tractor, he saw the wheels weren’t perfectly aligned with the loading ramps. So, he put the tractor in neutral and attempted to get off and realign the wheels. As he put it in neutral, the tractor went up the ramps and threw John off and into the road.

“I landed right on my elbow,” John said. “When I came down on it, I knew I was in really big trouble. I stood up and saw my arm flopping around. So, I knew I needed help pretty quick.”

John’s neighbor came to see if he was OK. He asked her to take him to OSF Saint Paul Medical Center’s emergency department.

Speedy response

“I arrived to the emergency department and have never experienced so much attention in my life from people,” he said. “Within minutes of arrival, a few nurses came rushing to get me and brought me back to a room.”

John was met by Dr. Brian Pope, emergency room doctor, who immediately ordered an X-ray. The results were not good – a dislocated and shattered elbow.

Dr. Pope made the decision to operate right away. He set John’s elbow and put on a soft cast.

“This all happened within about two hours,” he said. “That’s what impressed me the most is the staff’s sense of urgency and attentiveness to my injury. It was unbelievable.”

The following morning Dr. Allen Van, an orthopedic surgeon at OSF Saint Paul Medical Center, put a hard cast on John’s arm.

Dr. Van said John’s situation was one of the worst cases he had seen and predicted a lengthy recovery.

“I vividly remember Dr. Van saying I could potentially only have a 20 degree bend after rehab,” John said. “That’s not what an avid golfer wants to hear.”

A 20-degree bend meant that John’s arm would never be fully straight again.

Physical therapy

He began rehab at OSF Saint Paul nine weeks later after his cast was removed. His arm was stiff and he was unable to move it at all.

“I knew rehab would be a pretty painful process,” he said. “But I was determined to have full use of my arm again and wasn’t going to accept anything less.”

Ashlee Hoff was John’s occupational therapist and worked with him three days a week.

“From the moment I met Ashlee, I knew I was working with a dedicated, goal-oriented professional who would do whatever it took to attain my goal,” John said. “She dedicated every session to making improvement from the previous session.”

After three and half months of difficult therapy, John’s arm is almost completely straight. And he was able to get back on the golf course to play a couple rounds before winter.

“I can’t thank the whole staff enough for what they did for me,” John said. “I felt fortunate to receive the best of care at OSF Saint Paul.”


Good Health Habits Can Help Prevent Flu

Washing your hands often can help prevent flu.

The single best way to prevent seasonal flu is to get vaccinated each year, but good health habits like covering your cough and washing your hands often can help stop the spread of germs and prevent respiratory illnesses like the flu. There also are flu antiviral drugs that can be used to treat and prevent the flu.

1. Avoid close contact.

Avoid close contact with people who are sick. When you are sick, keep your distance from others to protect them from getting sick too.

2. Stay home when you are sick.

If possible, stay home from work, school, and errands when you are sick. You will help prevent others from catching your illness.

3. Cover your mouth and nose.

Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing. It may prevent those around you from getting sick.

4. Clean your hands.

Washing your hands often will help protect you from germs. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.

5. Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth.

Germs are often spread when a person touches something that is contaminated with germs and then touches his or her eyes, nose, or mouth.

6. Practice other good health habits.

Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces at home, work or school, especially when someone is ill. Get plenty of sleep, be physically active, manage your stress, drink plenty of fluids, and eat nutritious food.

7. Consult the experts

Talk to your primary care physician about getting your flu vaccine and other steps you can take to avoid the flu. Don’t have a primary care physician? Find one here.

Source: CDC