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VA Awards Five Imaging Data Exchange Contracts to Boost Interoperability

The VA has awarded Medicom five additional contracts that aim to boost interoperability and health data exchange for improved care coordination.

The Department of Veterans Affairs has awarded five new contracts with Medicom that are set to boost interoperability for health data exchange.

The contract awards will allow Veterans Integrated Service Network (VISN) 21, VISN 2, VISN 9, the Louis Stokes Cleveland VA Medical Center in VISN 10, and the VA Illiana Health Care System in VISN 12 to join the 15 existing VA participants in Medicom's Health Information Network.

These new additions to the network will enhance health information exchange for 2.9 million veterans seeking care from 38 VA Medical Centers across 21 states and jurisdictions. The network supports the exchange of health records as well as medical imaging.

While the 2018 Mission Act has increased veterans' access to care in community settings, it has also created many clinical and administrative challenges.

For instance, medical images and diagnostic results are often brought to and from the VA on CDs and DVDs. This often results in delays in diagnoses and care delivery, not to mention costs to the VA estimated at $163-181 million per year.

The health IT vendor said its network enables indexing, search, and retrieval of data. This means that through the platform, providers such as the VA may retrieve requested images and documents from community providers electronically, eliminating the need for CDs and DVDs.

Data is transmitted through temporary encrypted conduits which aims to allow clinicians to seamlessly integrate the information into their existing health record systems, such as an EHR.

Additionally, the platform brings a patient's complete medical history into a search-oriented user-interface, the vendor said. This could simplify the health data search and retrieval process for patients, providers, and third parties.

Earlier this year, Sanford Health, one of the largest health systems in the country, announced its sponsorship of a digital medical image exchange in collaboration with the Department of Veterans Affairs.

The health system partnered with Medicom on the exchange which aims to boost interoperability for care coordination.

The digital medical image exchange could also cut down administrative costs by eliminating hours spent arranging delivery of CDs holding patients’ medical imaging using couriers or the mail. According to Medicom, Sanford Health conducts a half million exchanges a year using faxes and CDs.

Paul Burud, executive director for Sanford Heart Fargo, noted that the implementation of the new information technology empowers providers by giving them efficient access to patient information and medical imaging.

Additionally, with Sanford Health and the VA operating clinics next to each other in the Midwest, the digital medical imaging exchange provides veterans the option to go back and forth from providers while still experiencing coordinated care.

“It impacts the Sanford system in a big way because we have, fortunately, those (VA) systems that are in our treatment areas,” Burud said in a press release at the time of the announcement.

Sanford USD Medical Center in South Dakota was the first care site to get connected to the digital medical imaging exchange. As the health IT company continues to add new organizations to its network, Sanford Health will be able to share medical imaging with those systems as well.

Next, the vendor wants to improve laboratory data exchange between Sanford and the VA to further boost care coordination as the health IT industry continues to modernize.

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