Joseph Sanford, M.D., Appointed Director of UAMS Institute for Digital Health & Innovation

By Spencer Watson

“The necessities of the past year have taught us a great deal about the potential of digital health and its ability to improve the lives of Arkansans regardless of where they are, and Dr. Sanford has been an integral part of that discovery,” said Cam Patterson, M.D., MBA, UAMS chancellor and CEO of UAMS Health.

Sanford has been on the forefront of digital health and clinical informatics initiatives for UAMS and Arkansas in recent years, serving as interim director of IDHI since last August, succeeding founding director Curtis Lowery, M.D. Sanford’s expertise has been applied in telehealth initiatives relating to the COVID-19 pandemic as well as the development of the statewide UAMS Health system.

“I’m grateful for the opportunity to be a part of work that is on the leading edge of expanding access to care and improving its quality throughout Arkansas,” said Sanford. “Digital health enables UAMS Health to provide our expertise anywhere at any time, and it’s exciting to see a new way of thinking about health care emerging as a result.”

Sanford received his medical degree and completed his anesthesiology residency at UAMS. He completed a fellowship in management of perioperative services at Stanford University School of Medicine. He joined the UAMS faculty as an assistant professor in 2015 and has served as an associate professor of anesthesiology and biomedical informatics since 2019.

Sanford has served as associate vice chancellor and chief clinical informatics officer since 2019. He is the UAMS fellowship site director for the clinical informatics fellowship based at UAMS and Arkansas Children’s.

When IDHI was established in early 2019, Sanford and Kevin Sexton, M.D., were appointed co-directors of the Healthcare Analytics Division. They have collaborated with the Arkansas Department of Health, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the UAMS College of Public Health, private industry and the Venture Center to model disease spread, personal protective equipment supply and distribution, and to pilot new technologies and develop intellectual property. To date, the team has submitted six invention disclosures to BioVentures for provisional patent applications.

Under Sanford’s leadership, IDHI is participating in the Arkansas Rural Connect Program with the Department of Commerce, providing recommendations on over $50 million in awards for broadband infrastructure in rural Arkansas. IDHI has been awarded $3.8 million in Health Resources and Services Administration funding through 2024 to establish a national digital health research center. IDHI also received funding to advise on the National Emergency TeleCritical Care Network for wearable devices and personal health records.

UAMS is the state's only health sciences university, with colleges of Medicine, Nursing, Pharmacy, Health Professions and Public Health; a graduate school; hospital; a main campus in Little Rock; a Northwest Arkansas regional campus in Fayetteville; a statewide network of regional campuses; and seven institutes: the Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute, Jackson T. Stephens Spine & Neurosciences Institute, Harvey & Bernice Jones Eye Institute, Psychiatric Research Institute, Donald W. Reynolds Institute on Aging, Translational Research Institute and Institute for Digital Health & Innovation. UAMS includes UAMS Health, a statewide health system that encompasses all of UAMS' clinical enterprise including its hospital, regional clinics and clinics it operates or staffs in cooperation with other providers. UAMS is the only adult Level 1 trauma center in the state. U.S. News & World Report recognized UAMS Medical Center as a Best Hospital for 2021-22; ranked its ear, nose and throat program among the top 50 nationwide for the third year; and named five areas as high performing — colon cancer surgery, diabetes, hip replacement, knee replacement and stroke. Forbes magazine ranked UAMS as seventh in the nation on its Best Employers for Diversity list. UAMS also ranked in the top 30% nationwide on Forbes’ Best Employers for Women list and was the only Arkansas employer included. UAMS has 2,876 students, 898 medical residents and six dental residents. It is the state's largest public employer with more than 10,000 employees, including 1,200 physicians who provide care to patients at UAMS, its regional campuses, Arkansas Children's, the VA Medical Center and Baptist Health. Visit or Find us on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube or Instagram.