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February 27, 2020 . Sandy Cummings

We are Ursa Health: meet John Toher

Ursa Health Blog

Visit Ursa Health's blog to gain healthcare data analytics insights or to get to know us a little better. Read more...

What’s your role at Ursa Health, and what do you do?

I am director of technical services, which means I am a technical resource for clients during their implementation of the Ursa Health Platform. The job allows me to exercise my two core strengths: my technical expertise and then my ability to help people achieve success using technology. It really hit my sweet spot.

Can you share a little about your background?

I would say the overarching themes of my professional career to date have been data interoperability and data modeling, creating standards for that type of work.

I went to the University of Texas at Austin, where I received a BS in mathematics and a BA in economics. I started my career at Epic, where I was a technical services engineer working on an enterprise master patient index product called Identity. After two cold winters in Madison, Wisconsin, I went back to sunny Austin to join a small healthcare claims analysis company called Medical Present Value and do similar work.

Then, for about seven years I was at the Advisory Board, a research think tank later acquired by Optum. I first worked with their business intelligence suite of tools, creating and perfecting algorithms and focusing on real-time data collection via HL7 data interfaces. I then moved on to the company’s population health workflow tool, Crimson Care Management, and served as the integration engineer on that team, focusing on claims, EMR, and more real-time data integrations. Finally, I joined the data acquisition services group, an implementation team that worked across the product portfolio. Our job was to be able to pull data out of EMR systems and conform it to the data requirements of our products.

Why did you decide to work for Ursa Health?

One of the main drivers was the people at Ursa. I’d worked with Aaron Mock at the Advisory Board, and we’d stayed in touch—he’s really a great person to work with. The role he envisioned for me was based on our professional experience together and his understanding of what I like to do. Then, I talked extensively with Andy Hackbarth and Robin Clarke during the interview process, and that clinched it.

I went from one of the largest ponds in the U.S. healthcare system to a relatively small one, and that had a lot of appeal. I have the opportunity to wear a lot of different hats and have a tangible impact on both the company and our clients’ work.

What do you find to be the best part about working with Ursa Health?

I appreciate being involved in conversations that I would never have been pulled into at a larger company. I can give input into any area of the company, whether that’s marketing, product development, or something else. I enjoy building out our implementation process with Aaron and understanding the best way to do data integrations with Andy.

Ursa Health is on the precipice of larger scale growth. Being in on the ground floor, helping prepare for that, watching it happen—all of that is very exciting.

What is one thing your colleagues would be surprised to know about you?

My favorite thing I do every morning is the New York Times crossword puzzle—that’s kind of my big hobby. Otherwise I’m a big football fan—I root for the New England Patriots—love to travel, and have lived all over the country.

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