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DSU part of innovative data project with Sanford

March 5, 2017

Dakota State University researchers are among those from six Dakota universities and private institutions who will be using real-time data from Sanford Health to study patient trends. The data, which will be stripped of private information, can help improve patient care by identifying underlying causes for various illnesses, said a press release from Sanford Health.

“Sanford Data Collaborative will give researchers valuable insights into critical health issues like cancer, diabetes, hypertension, and women’s and children’s concerns,” the release explained.

“Earlier this year, regional academic and research institutions applied to receive data specific to their research goals. Once the research is conducted, the investigators will collaborate with Sanford providers to explore ways to apply findings to the populations Sanford serves,” the release continued.

 “The health information will be gathered from thousands of patient visits to Sanford facilities each day,” the release explained, adding that a privacy board was developed to ensure continued patient privacy, made up of legal and Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act experts and community members.

“We are proud to be leading the way, as this type of data sharing is fairly unprecedented in the United States,” said Benson Hsu, M.D., vice president of data analytics for Sanford. “We’ve committed to managing this data ethically and can promise patients that their privacy continues to be Sanford’s top priority.”

Dr. Yong Wang is the principal investigator for the Dakota State University project, agreed that this type of project is not common.

“This is the first time Sanford [has shared] data with the academia,” said Wang, but that affords Dakota State benefits. “It provides a great opportunity for faculty and students to look into and analyze real data in health care.” Because of this, “Faculty from both the College of Business and Information Systems and the College of Computing will benefit,” he added.

In addition, Wang said “[t]his project will help us strength the relationship with Sanford and it may lead more collaborations with Sanford in the future.”

“Sanford Research has a constant drive to contribute to improved patient care through partnerships with academic institutions and the health care delivery arm of Sanford Health,” said David Pearce, Ph.D., executive vice president of Sanford Research. “This project is our latest enterprise that will improve care and educate our next level of health care professionals.”

In addition to Wang, several other faculty and students are working on the project, titled “Understanding the relationship between MySanfordChart and the Utilization of Emergency Department and Urgent Care Centers.” MySanfordChart is an online platform through which patients may access their personal health information.

The other investigators on the DSU project include: Dr. Cherie Noteboom, associate professor and program coordinator for the doctor of science in information systems; College of Business and Information Systems assistant professor Jun Liu; Health Information Management (HIM) Associate Professor Linda Parks, HIM Assistant Professors Renae Spohn and Julie Wulf Plimpton; BIS Associate Professor Ronghua Shan; and three doctoral students, Tareq Nasralah, Ali Ahmed, and Abdullah Wahbeh.

The DSU project will examine utilization patterns, characteristics and behaviors of rural and urban patients across service platforms, including MySanfordChart, emergency departments, and urgent care. The potential impact of this work is three-fold, Wang said, the first being the increase in utilization of MySanfordChart. Another impact will be to identify areas with poor access to health care facilities, information which will help Sanford make decisions about where new facilities should be located. The final outcome will be cost-savings by using MySanfordChart.

Other institutions whose project proposals were accepted include: SDSU, University of North Dakota Population Health program, University of South Dakota, University of North Dakota School of Medicine, and Sanford Research.