DSU partners with Sanford Health for Cyberhealth Strategic Alliance

DAKOTA STATE UNIVERSITY PRESIDENT Jose-Marie Griffiths announced on Wednesday morning a CyberHealth Strategic Alliance with Sanford Health that will enable South Dakota to become a national cyberhealth innovation hub.

President Jose-Marie Griffiths has again challenged her faculty members to rise up and meet a new vision for Dakota State University.

On Wednesday morning, she announced with Josh Robinson, chief information officer for Sanford Health, a strategic alliance that calls upon faculty to imagine how that alliance will impact the work they are doing.

"What are the priorities? How will we move forward?" she said, posing the questions which will be addressed in coming weeks and months as DSU works to develop an operational plan.

She noted this approach has been effective in the past, citing the Madison Cyber Labs as an example. That concept was turned over to faculty members who then began proposing areas of research.

"The Mad Labs started to blossom," Griffiths said, expressing her belief that they would bring the same initiative to this alliance.

The strategic alliance between Sanford Health and DSU began, according to Robinson, when he engaged in a discussion with Griffiths about a need that his organization has. Each year, the health-care organization needs to hire a minimum of 50 individuals to fill positions in their technology division.

"We have an ever-increasing need," he said.

When he approached Griffiths, he had a single goal in mind. He wanted DSU students to consider staying in the state rather than taking positions on the coasts.

"We want Sanford Health to be the employer they pick," he said.

However, as Griffiths and Robinson began to discuss needs, capabilities and interests, both began to see a richer, more diverse association, which led to Wednesday's announcement of a CyberHealth Strategic Alliance between DSU and Sanford Health.

Griffiths, who acknowledged both organizations have numerous other partnerships, described the alliance as "a partnership on steroids, a long-term multi-dimensional relationship." The primary goal of the alliance is collaboration, both in terms of immediate opportunities and "in areas we can't even imagine today."

"Our commitment to this strategic alliance is to explore and develop that potential opportunity together," she said.

For the purposes of this collaboration, Griffiths defined cyberhealth as "the application of the wide range of current and future computing and technologies to health." This term was coined to include not only health care but also the "genomic, proteomic and metabolomic data that relate to health and potential health."

DSU and Sanford Health have identified three areas of collaboration. The first is talent acquisition, development and retention. Specifically, Sanford needs cyber-qualified personnel, and DSU has cyber-intensive degree programs whose graduates can meet this need, according to Griffiths.

However, the partnership could also help DSU fill critical positions, including faculty positions, by attracting national talent and industry partners.

"We are competing with universities across the country, many of which have much deeper pockets than we have," Griffiths said, explaining the challenge DSU currently faces.

The second area of collaboration is research. One goal is to improve operational effectiveness.

"This will include creation of a state-of-the-art health-care technology and cybersecurity operations center as a model for health-care services nationwide," Griffiths said.

Another goal is to collaborate in health data research to identify trends of clinical significance. Artificial intelligence and predictive analysis could also be used to "advance the pace of health-care innovations," according to Griffiths.

In addition, research can help to ensure data security and individual privacy with health-related technologies such as medical devices and implants.

The third area of collaboration is in health technology.

"We anticipate that our research collaborations will result in active knowledge transfer between our institutions, and could result in cyber technology applications, service solutions and intellectual property that could be translated to care delivery and other environments," Griffiths said.

She concluded by noting the winning combination created by the strategic alliance.

"We know that the alliance will generate new businesses, new jobs and be a magnet to draw other professionals as well as cyberhealth and cyber-enriched businesses to Madison, Sioux Falls and other areas of South Dakota," she said.

Robinson affirmed Griffiths' goals for the collaboration.

"I see this putting the Dakotas on the map for cyberhealth," he told DSU administrators who assembled for the announcement at the Beacom Institute of Technology.

He said the health-care system across the nation could be affected by the innovative solutions developed through research conducted.

"I can see there being no limit to what this can accomplish," Robinson said.

Mike Malone, president of the Lake Area Improvement Corporation, spoke briefly, noting that both DSU and Sanford Health are pioneers in their fields. He said growth at the university leads to growth in the community and applauded DSU for this alliance as well as other innovative programs.

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