Sanford Health backs digital image sharing initiative with VA: 5 things to know

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Sioux Falls, S.D.-based Sanford Health is backing a digital medical image exchange with the Department of Veterans Affairs to improve interoperability and support fluid care between health systems.

The initiative will be paid for by the South Dakota health system, according to a May 16 news release.

Five things to know:

  1. The partnership will improve healthcare options for veterans in the Midwest seeking medical services outside of the VA under the Mission Act, which allows veterans to seek out-of-network care if their VA medical center doesn't have access to the service in a reasonable time.

  2. The imaging exchange will allow Sanford Health and VA health systems in South Dakota, North Dakota, Minnesota, Iowa and Nebraska to share patients' medical images electronically, eliminating the need to send physical media.

  3. Currently, exchanging data through health systems requires sending data through faxes, paper or CDs. The exchange can cut down on administrative costs through hours spent submitting requests and arranging the delivery of CDs through the mail.

  4. Nathan Opitz, Sanford's director of clinical department solutions, who helped lead the initiative, said it will cut down on duplicative imaging, which will make it easier to receive patients and has the potential to save veteran lives.

  5. Sanford USD Medical Center in Sioux Falls will be the first location to launch the program with other locations coming soon. 

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