DSU, Sanford form CyberHealth Strategic Alliance

Nov. 18, 2020

What does the hospital room of the future look like?

How can health systems ensure security and privacy as patient data multiplies?

What insight can artificial intelligence reveal when it’s applied to analyzing medical records?

And how should the answers to those questions be scaled out, potentially across the entire health care field?

Those questions and more offer a look at why Dakota State University and Sanford Health have formed the CyberHealth Strategic Alliance, bringing resources of both organizations together to pursue cyberhealth innovation and research, and drive workforce and economic development.

“The potential is huge, as I see it, providing a very large opportunity space for DSU and Sanford,” DSU president José-Marie Griffiths said.

“I like to call it a partnership on steroids. We’re really talking about a long-term, multidimensional alliance between our two organizations that leverages our shared needs and interests and our complementary skills and capabilities.”

The alliance, which aims to create a network of excellence, was birthed as an idea between Griffiths and Sanford Health chief information officer Josh Robinson.

“My frustration was there’s a tremendous amount of talent that comes out of DSU,” Robinson said. “So much of it leaves the state, which bothers me as a citizen of the state and frustrates me as a business leader because I want that talent to stay here and be part of our organization.”

He predicted there’s enough interest from industry in hiring students trained by DSU that the alliance is “going to really expand the capabilities of DSU, potentially double the student body. We see this being a catalyst for that, and where we expect to see it is between health data research and operational excellence.”

Elements of the alliance include:

  • Talent acquisition, development and retention, including student enrichment opportunities and cyber executive education.
  • Collaborative research to including creating a state-of-the-art health care technology and cybersecurity operations center that is designed to serve as a model of health care nationwide.
  • Health data research to uncover new patterns of clinical significance, including the use of artificial intelligence, predictive analysis and machine learning to advance the pace of health care innovation.
  • Creating a Cyber Solutions Accelerator Lab, the third in the nation, designed as a destination for testing and proving technology capabilities to solve real-world problems.
  • Incubuation and support of early startup and technology innovation companies to improve health care delivery.
  • Exploration of a leading data science program focused on sports medicine and athletics for injury prevention and athletic performance.

For Griffiths, whose background includes multiple roles related to health care and information technology, “this is a much more enlarged domain of application for our graduates, our faculty, our researchers to apply their skills and their knowledge.”

The alliance will bring opportunities for students to gain work experience at Sanford and multiple avenues for collaborative research and health data research, along with integration of multiple technologies in research.

“We are very interested in the patient room of the future, home health care robots, rural health,” Griffiths said. “That’s when you get into the health Internet of Things, which will be medical devices as adjuncts outside the person, implants or wearables. I think that’s really exciting, and when we look at innovation integration, we need to make sure we ensure security and privacy.”

The alliance is still in its infancy, but both organizations said it likely will involve a physical location in Sioux Falls eventually.

“We think long term we absolutely have to have a facility. What’s still a question mark for us is what other partners will express interest and want to participate,” Robinson said. “We’d love to see Sanford and DSU at the center of that network of excellence.”

Ultimately, the alliance could lead to commercialization once products and services are developed and incubated, Griffiths added.

“This whole strategic alliance is both an attractor of resources and interest, and hopefully spinning off various activities that could apply in health care or non-health care environments. We might develop tools and technology that can be applied elsewhere. As we’re successful, I believe we’ll be increasing each organization’s innovation and impact, and adding jobs in Madison, Sioux Falls and South Dakota. And hopefully, we will increasingly be recognized as a national cyberhealth innovation hub. To me, it’s a win-win-win for DSU and Madison, for Sanford Health and Sioux Falls, and it’s a win for South Dakota.”

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DSU, Sanford form CyberHealth Strategic Alliance

“Hopefully we will increasingly be recognized as a national cyber health innovation hub.” This could be big: a new strategic alliance between DSU and Sanford Health.

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