Joseph Sanford, M.D., is the director of the UAMS Institute for Digital Health & Innovation (IDHI), established in January 2019. He also serves as associate vice chancellor — chief clinical informatics officer (CCIO) and an associate professor in the UAMS College of Medicine’s Department of Anesthesiology & Department of Biomedical Informatics. As part of the UAMS response to the COVID pandemic, Dr. Sanford led the implementation of the platform and workflows to enable widespread virtual visits, growing visits by 36-fold in the first two quarters of 2020. He expanded service coverage to all specialties offered at UAMS and helped develop a virtual peer-to-peer consulting process for inpatient care and specialist communication and for nursing home remote coverage. He obtained philanthropic support for the UAMS HealthNow virtual convenient care service to provide free COVID-19 related visits as well as helped secure federal grants to expand access to digital health services across the state
IDHI delivers real-time interactive video patient consultations, continuing medical education, and patient education to Arkansas. The institute represents the culmination of Arkansas’ digital health expertise, with directors and stakeholders who have been instrumental in developing telemedicine initiatives in Arkansas that address the state’s health disparities. IDHI has brought over 20 long-sustaining telemedicine and 10 distance education programs to rural providers and patients in Arkansas.
Dr. Sanford was co-director, with surgeon Kevin Sexton, M.D., of the institute’s Healthcare Analytics Division. They have collaborated with the Arkansas Department of Health, FEMA, the UAMS COPH, private industry, and startup accelerator like The Venture Center to model disease spread, PPE supply and distribution, pilot new technologies, and co-develop new intellectual property via grants and other opportunities. He, Sexton, and other research partners have submitted six patent applications to date as part of their work in the division.
As CCIO, Dr. Sanford is responsible for designing and supporting the development of clinical information systems to improve the delivery of patient care throughout the UAMS Health system. His group does so with a focus on behavioral economics-influenced user experience and user interface improvements for providers and patients while maintaining, updating, and expanding the electronic medical record.
An Arkansas native, Sanford received his medical degree from UAMS and his bachelor’s degree with honors in computer science from the University of Arkansas. He completed a fellowship in the management of perioperative services at the Stanford University School of Medicine in Stanford, California. He has been the recipient of several grants and awards.