Michael A. Norton Joins NWHSU's Board of Trustees

Rob Karwath | November 06, 2017

Michael A. Norton has moved seamlessly — and successfully — between government, higher education and business in a career spanning more than three decades. He has joined NWHSU's Board of Trustees.

He started as an analyst in the Minnesota Legislature and worked his way up to the Minnesota Attorney General’s Office, where he put his law degree to use handling trade, public finance and intellectual property matters. He then served as director of the University of Minnesota’s Office of Information Technology before moving to the private sector in executive e-commerce and technology roles with Toys R Us, Barnes & Noble and now mPowerHealth Inc., a health-care data management and support firm he founded. 

It’s a rare combination of backgrounds and achievements for Norton, who grew up in Cambridge, Minn., and has lived and worked in the Twin Cities as well as the New York City area during his career. Now the public servant with an entrepreneurial bent is lending his experience and skills to Northwestern Health Sciences University as a member of its Board of Trustees. 

One constant in Norton’s career has been a focus on how technology can improve consumer offerings and outcomes. He views that as a huge opportunity for Northwestern as well.

“I see Northwestern serving as the connection between the community and technology-based health and wellness offerings,” Norton says. “So much of our future of depends on the responsible utilization of technology, and especially in health care. We have to do something to drive out the high costs of health care in this country. Technology offers great promise in that regard, especially with artificial intelligence advances and the ability to participate in the positive use of big data.”

Big data, or the computer analysis of extremely large data sets to reveal patterns, trends, and associations in human behavior, often carries a negative connotation, Norton said. But big data also can be used for good, such as understanding the health choices people make so professionals can assist patients and entire communities in improving outcomes.

“Big data has great promise to be instrumental in bringing affordable medicine and affordable health maintenance to people,” Norton said. “That is what I think our university has a unique opportunity to do—build that relationship with the community.”

Technology combined with the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of treatments taught and practiced at Northwestern—chiropractic, massage therapy, acupuncture, Chinese medicine and nutrition—can improve health and lives at an affordable price, Norton said.

“That is where the huge opportunity is with technology,” he said. “It’s in wedding technology to the actual treatment and helping drive out the redundant costs in health and wellness. When we do that, it’s key to have the credibility that comes with solid scientific research and academic thinking.”

Northwestern—with its strong academic offerings, innovative research work, community-based clinics and wide network of alumni practitioners—can be a leader in a market increasingly driven by a new generation’s new way of thinking. 

“Millennials look to me to be a tremendous audience for us,” Norton said. “It’s another reason for us to use technology to help get our message out and get our work done.”

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