Sanford launches innovative data project to improve patient care

Dakota universities part of effort


SIOUX FALLS, S.D. – Researchers from Dakota universities and private institutions will use 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.  

The Sanford Data Collaborative will give researchers valuable insights into critical health issues like cancer, diabetes, hypertension, and women’s and children’s concerns. The health information will be gathered from thousands of patient visits to Sanford facilities each day.

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.

To ensure continued patient privacy, a privacy board was developed and contains 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.”

Six projects were selected for the 2016-17 academic year:

  • Dakota State University (Principal Investigator: Yong Wang, Ph.D.): The project will examine utilization patterns, characteristics and behaviors of rural and urban patients across service platforms (i.e., MySanfordChart, Emergency Department, Urgent Care) with the goal of improving effective mobile platform utilization throughout the Sanford footprint.
  • South Dakota State University (Principal Investigator: Surachat Ngorsuraches, Ph.D.): The project will develop a patient engagement score using existing patient data (without additional surveys) for those with multiple chronic conditions, looking to improve health outcomes and decrease health care costs for these patients.
  • University of North Dakota, Population Health (Principal Investigator: Arielle Seyla, Ph.D.): This project will develop a risk score to predict unplanned medical visits among diabetic patients, considering their current disease management behaviors (i.e., smoking status) to inform and improve health care outcomes among the diabetic population.
  • University of South Dakota (Principal Investigator: Carole South-Winter, Ed.D.): This project seeks to develop a risk score for patient readmission following heart surgery, informing prevention measures aimed at decreasing hospital readmissions among cardiac patients.
  • University of North Dakota, School of Medicine (Principal Investigator: Jeff Hostetter, M.D.): The project looks to measure the impact of team-based vs. exclusive primary care on patient outcomes, looking to identify how team-based care improves patient engagement and health outcomes.
  • Sanford Research (Principal Investigator: Susan Hoover, M.D., Ph.D.): This project will examine predictors and outcomes of clinical testing strategies currently surrounding C. difficile, ultimately looking to create a platform to decrease overuse of testing strategies across Sanford.

“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.”

The Sanford Data Collaborative is a service of Sanford Research and is supported by Sanford Enterprise Data and Analytics. For more information, call 605-312-6235.

About Sanford Health

Sanford Health is an integrated health system headquartered in the Dakotas. It is one of the largest health systems in the nation with 45 hospitals and nearly 300 clinics in nine states and four countries. Sanford Health’s 28,000 employees, including more than 1,300 physicians, make it the largest employer in the Dakotas. Nearly $1 billion in gifts from philanthropist Denny Sanford have allowed for several initiatives, including global children's clinics, genomic medicine and specialized centers researching cures for type 1 diabetes, breast cancer and other diseases. For more information, visit sanfordhealth.org.