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Health System Sponsors Digital Medical Image Exchange With VA

A health system in the Midwest is funding a digital medical image exchange in order to boost interoperability and care coordination for veterans.

Sanford Health is sponsoring a digital medical image exchange in collaboration with the Department of Veterans Affairs to boost interoperability and improve care coordination for veterans in the Midwest.

The exchange allows Sanford Health and VA health care systems in South Dakota, North Dakota, Minnesota, Iowa, and Nebraska to safely share patients’ medical imaging and records data electronically.

The implementation of a digital medical image exchange will help increase care coordination for veterans who seek care outside of the VA under the Mission Act.

“We’re hopefully going to start seeing some really positive stories because of this,” Nathan Opitz, former Sanford Health Director of Clinical Department Solutions, said in a press release. “Getting this connection in place is going to make a huge difference for Sanford and for our relationship with our veterans.”

The digital medical image exchange will cut down on duplicative imaging, making it easier to access accurate medical images that could help save lives, Opitz noted.

Sanford Health partnered with Medicom, the creator of the first federated health information network in the country, has been working with the VA since 2016.

The health IT company said it facilitates electronic data exchange, boosting interoperability and allowing for providers to quickly receive patient health data and avoid care delays.

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 says.

Sanford USD Medical Center in South Dakota is the first care site to get connected to the digital exchange.

Nationally, the health IT company believes the digital medical imaging exchange will save the VA somewhere between $163 and 181 million annually.

As the health IT exchange company continues to add new organizations to its network, Sanford Health will be able to share medical imaging with those systems as well. Right now, the health system is connecting to 75 other organizations.

Next, the company 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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