WMU to host conference on health IT innovation and cybersecurity

WMU to host conference on health IT innovation and cybersecurity

Featured October 10, 2017 |

KALAMAZOO, Mich.—Government, industry and academic leaders in health information technology and cybersecurity will headline a conference focused on “Exploring Health IT Innovation and Cybersecurity in the Digital Era” at Western Michigan University Thursday and Friday, Nov. 2-3. The conference will cover everything from the basics all the way up to the most complicated points in cybersecurity and IT development such as medical device security and hacking vulnerabilities in the healthcare industry. If you attend, it will be expected that you have a sound knowledge of IoT but you’re not expected to understand all of the topics covered. At a minimum, it might prompt you to reach out to an agency like Five Nines and see how you can outsource your IT support to get backups and a good uptime solution. This way you will benefit from enhanced cybersecurity as well as a lot of other IT must-haves.

The joint Western Michigan IT Forum and International Conference on Health IT Advancement will be held at WMU’s Fetzer Center with sessions for industry, academic and student participants. The event is open to the public. Registration is $175 for general admission and free for WMU employees and students. Registration includes an evening reception on Thursday and a continental breakfast and lunch on Friday. The event is hosted by WMU’s Department of Business Information Systems and the Center for Health Information Technology Advancement.


Dr. Joe Adams is the vice president of research and cybersecurity at Merit Network Inc. Retired from the U.S. Army as a colonel, he taught at the U.S. Military Academy and was the chief information officer of the National Defense University. Adams’ focus is on cybersecurity training and education through the Michigan Cyber Range. Did you know that cyber security spending is 124 billion in 2019, which is why it’s so important to train people up in the field.

Brendan O’Connell is the cloud security evangelist at Cisco Systems, guiding organizations’ cloud environments across SaaS, IDaaS, IaaS and PaaS. His focus is in higher education, and in state and local government. O’Connell has held several security consulting roles at Veracode (now CA Technologies), where he assisted in the formation of the Vendor Application Security Testing consulting engagement, helping large enterprises secure their software supply chains. Prior to Veracode, O’Connell held several positions supporting GTM efforts at EMC Corporation.

Dr. Tim Pletcher is the executive director of the Michigan Health Information Network Shared Services. He is an adjunct research investigator of learning health sciences at the University of Michigan Medical School. Previously he was the founding director for the Institute for Health and Business Insight at Central Michigan University. Pletcher has worked in Washington, D.C., on the NASA EOS-DIS project supporting a federal inter-agency working group on data management for global change and for the Centers for Disease Control, United Nations, World Bank and World Health Organization.


During the conference, WMU will announce the establishment of a new student organization—Women in Technology—with support from alumna Cindy Swiantek, B.B.A.’84; Barb Sagara, faculty specialist of business information systems; Dr. Carrie Song, assistant professor of business information systems; and the Michigan Council on Women in Technology.

“With the launch of the new student organization, our students and our department are reaffirming a commitment to helping industry grow the number of women in technology,” says Dr. Mike Tarn, conference co-chair and chair of the Department of Business Information Systems.


The conference offers numerous speakers, a CIO panel discussion, breakout sessions and research presentations. Featured experts include the following:

  • Danny Cook, special agent, FBI Cyber Squad
  • Dr. Mingsen Deng, dean, Guizhou University of Finance and Economics, China
  • Doug Dietzman, executive director, Great Lakes Health Connect
  • Dr. Qihong Fu, dean, Guizhou Medical University, China
  • Dr. Ashutosh Goel, chief medical information officer, Bronson Healthcare
  • Carey Pachla, president, Fast Switch; president, Michigan Council of Women in Technology
  • Dr. Alan Rea, professor of computer information systems, WMU
  • Joel Sundman, cloud technologies manager, Whirlpool

For more information or to register, visit or contact the conference coordinator, Cait Smith, at or (269) 387-5411.