Sanford will convene the Summit on the Future of Rural Health Care

— Sanford Health is bringing together policymakers, national health care leaders and industry experts for a national Summit on the Future of Rural Health Care. The event will include roundtable discussions and fireside chats focused on opportunities to expand access, reduce costs, narrow disparities and improve health outcomes in rural America.

The summit takes place on August 23 at the Sanford Barn in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. It will also be streamed live for journalists and the public to join. The event begins at 9:30 am CT.

“Rural America faces unique challenges when it comes to health care, and we are committed to bringing the best and the brightest together to launch bold ideas that improve the lives of our patients and make our communities healthier places to live,” said Bill Gassen, president and CEO of Sanford Health. “The nationally recognized experts attending this summit are committed to making a real difference in the way care is delivered for generations to come.”

A health care industry panel will explore how innovations in technology and other fields can serve as a catalyst to transform care in rural America. Confirmed panelists include Sheri Dodd, vice president and general manager of Medtronic Care Management Services, Michael Suk, MD, JD, MPH, MBA, of the American Medical Association, and Jim Weinstein, MD, of Microsoft Health. David Shulkin, MD, Ninth Secretary of the US Department of Veterans Affairs, will moderate the panel.

Dodd has spent 30 years working to improve patient outcomes in the pharmaceutical, medical technology and public health sectors and is an advocate for helping patients manage chronic health conditions. Prior to Medtronic, she spent 13 years at Johnson & Johnson and five years at the World Health Organization. She holds a Masters degree in Health Planning and Financing from the London School of Economics.

“Envisioning, developing, implementing and supporting virtual care programs will be a game changer for the patient and clinical health care experience in rural settings and beyond,” says Dodd. “The time is right to build the foundation for a differentiated approach, especially around patient engagement and healthcare delivery.”

Suk is a vocal leader on public health issues, including the role and importance of organized medicine, physician well-being and wellness, social determinants of health, and many other public health concerns. In 1994, he became the first medical student and the first Asian-American elected to the Board of Trustees of the American Medical Association and was re-elected in 2019 where he currently serves as Secretary of the Board. Suk is also on the Board of The Joint Commission and serves as the system-wide chair of the Geisinger Musculoskeletal Institute and professor of Orthopedic Surgery at the Geisinger Commonwealth School of Medicine. He was selected as a White House Fellow under President George W. Bush in 2003 and as a Baldrige Executive Fellow in 2017.

“Vast rural areas struggle disproportionately to care for the sickest patients; experience a shortage of primary care professionals; and endure devastating financial challenges that jeopardize patient access to care,” said AMA Board Member Michael Suk, MD, JD, “To meet the health needs of rural populations, the AMA has long advocated that care teams led by physicians and telehealth as critical. for the effective, efficient and equitable provision of high quality health care. Taking steps to ensure that rural communities can rely on digital health services enabled by telehealth and the Internet and have access to physician-led care teams will increase continuity of care, ensure access throughout time and will help overcome the shortage of doctors.

Weinstein serves as senior vice president of Microsoft Health where he leads strategy, innovation and health equity, including precision population health efforts to create new pathways to end racial and ethnic disparities. He is a pioneer in the delivery of remote care, creating one of the first telemedicine and remote sensing technology programs. An accomplished author, he has published more than 325 peer-reviewed articles and served as editor-in-chief of Spine for three decades. In 2015, Weinstein was appointed by President Obama to the Special Medical Advisory Group for the Veterans Administration, where he served three secretaries.

“It’s time to move beyond the ‘Geography is Destiny’ construct that has served to predict an individual’s health future. Approaches that include actionable policy partnerships and long-term commitments from community-based leadership are essential to driving real change so that where you are born does not dictate your future health status. The vibrant diversity of rural America is uniquely positioned to lead the digital transformation, bringing critical lessons and driving meaningful improvements in population health globally.

U.S. Senator John Thune (RS.D.) will join Jerry Penso, MD, president and CEO of the American Group Medical Association for a discussion focused on how policy advances in telehealth, broadband access, and health mental health are critical to improving health care in rural areas for generations to come.

“No matter where you call home, access to high-quality health care services is critical. South Dakotans have been longtime beneficiaries of telehealth, and our providers continue to lead and innovate,” Thune said. “As a legislator, I am committed to ensuring that rural America is represented in conversations about the direction of health policy and to highlight the success we have seen in our state.”

A fireside chat with Geeta Nayyar, MD, MBA, senior vice president and chief medical officer at Salesforce, will be moderated by Erica DeBoer, chief nursing officer at Sanford Health. Nayyar is a nationally recognized leader in healthcare information technology, a physician executive, public speaker and author.

“The accelerated digital transformation brought about by the pandemic helps provide the access and scale currently lacking in many rural communities,” said Geeta Nayyar, MD, MBA, senior vice president and chief medical officer at Salesforce. “The world is now at a tipping point where it can elevate education and health education within rural America through more reliable communication and technology. As a medical professional currently living in an era where misinformation and disinformation are rampant, I am excited to join others in transforming the way care is delivered within these communities.”

Eric Larsen, president, The Advisory Board Company, and Aneesh Chopra, co-founder and president, CareJourney, who was appointed by President Barack Obama to serve as the nation’s first Chief Technology Officer, will explore how innovation, digital solutions patient-centered health and value-based models will shape the future of care delivery.

LaShawn McIver, MD, MPH, Director, CMS Office of Minority Health, will join Jeremy Cauwels, MD, FACP, FHM, Chief Medical Officer, Sanford Health for a virtual fireside chat to discuss the link between health care quality and equity and CMS’ strategy to “rethink rural health” and drive system-wide change.

McIver is a proven public health leader with experience in leading successful health initiatives and public policy efforts aimed at promoting health equity, improving health outcomes, increasing access to care and promoting health system reform. Before joining CMS, Dr. McIver led Government Affairs and Advocacy (GA&A) efforts at the American Diabetes Association (ADA) as its Vice President of Public Policy and Strategic Alliances and later as Senior Vice President of all GA&A.

Sanford Health announced a landmark $350 million virtual care initiative in 2021 to transform health care for rural and underserved communities across the Midwest by significantly improving access to convenient, high-quality health care. The vision is to bring affordable, comprehensive and seamless medical care to people, regardless of their zip code.

A groundbreaking is planned for the Sanford Virtual Care Center in conjunction with this August 23rd National Summit in Sioux Falls.

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Join Virtually
Journalists unable to attend the summit in person can join a live stream on the day of the Summit using this link:

About Sanford Health
Sanford Health, the largest rural health system in the United States, is dedicated to transforming the health care experience and providing access to world-class health care in America’s heartland. Headquartered in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, the organization serves more than one million patients and 220,000 health plan members in 250,000 square miles. The integrated health system has 47 medical centers, 2,800 Sanford physicians and advanced practice providers, 170 clinical investigators and research scientists, more than 200

Good Samaritan Senior Care Sites and World Clinics in 8 countries around the globe. Learn more about Sanford Health’s commitment to shaping the future of rural health care across the lifespan at or Sanford Health News.


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