Mark Zehner is a researcher focusing on implementation and dissemination of evidence-based practices and currently manages the portfolio of programs of the R35 Outstanding Investigator Award (OIA) under the direction of UW-CTRI Director Dr. Michael Fiore. Zehner coordinates several partnerships and projects between UW-CTRI, Wisconsin-based healthcare systems, and multiple technology systems such as Epic and smokefree.gov to seize the potential of the electronic health record (EHR) and take a population health approach to delivering a chronic-care treatment for smoking.
Zehner earned his bachelor’s in Psychology and Sociology (with a Concentration in Analysis & Research) from UW in 1996 and started at UW-CTRI that summer. He remembers standing in local clinic doorways with a clipboard for the Vital Signs study, conducting exit interviews with patients to see if their clinicians asked them about tobacco use. He later coordinated UW-CTRI studies such as the I94, CHESS, and the Wisconsin Smokers’ Health Study. Upon gathering his master’s degree in Population Health Sciences from UW SMPH, from 2007 until 2016, Mark worked for the Center for Health Enhancement Systems Studies (CHESS) at the UW Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering focusing on how healthcare systems could optimize workflow, adopt evidence-based processes and ensure quality control particularly around integration of mental health and substance abuse treatment services. He and his team worked with behavioral healthcare providers to minimize patient wait times and improve appointment show rates. Zehner is an organizational improvement coach for NIATx and has published papers on expert facilitation for quality improvement and innovation adoption in healthcare and criminal justice settings.