The Department of Veterans Affairs has announced Sanford Health is among 13 community health care systems that have pledged to share data to improve the veteran experience regardless of where veterans receive their health care — inside or outside of VA.
Through this pledge, VA and the 13 community health care systems will work to improve veteran health care by:
- Seamlessly exchanging information about care provided and requested
- Saving money for veterans by ensuring that they are taking advantage of VA and community resources
- Connecting veterans with VA benefits, including new benefits for toxic exposure-related conditions under the PACT Act
As with all partnerships, VA will safeguard the privacy and security of veteran information by securely exchanging information about care provided and requested.
“It is a privilege for us to care for our veterans, and this collaboration will help provide a better health care experience for the men and women who have done so much for us,” said Capt. Paul Weckman, head of military and veteran affairs at Sanford Health. “We wholeheartedly support the VA’s goals of improving care for our nation’s veterans because it is the right thing to do.”
Supporting veteran patients and employees
Sanford Health is dedicated to giving current and past military members exceptional care and employment opportunities. Sanford works to support veterans and current military members with programs designed to meet their care needs. These include Sanford Veterans Clubs at medical centers, a Veteran Ambassador Program and a Veteran Hotline. Sanford has also been recognized by Military Times for being one of the best employers across the country for veterans.
In addition to Sanford Health, the other health care systems partnering with VA in this effort are Emory Healthcare, Inova, Jefferson Health, UC Davis Health, Intermountain Health, Mass General Brigham, Rush Health, Tufts Medical Center, Marshfield Clinic, Kaiser Permanente Health Plan and Hospitals, UPMC and Atrium Health.
“This pledge will improve Veteran health care by giving us seamless, immediate access to a patient’s medical history, which will help us make timely and accurate treatment decisions,” said VA Under Secretary for Health Dr. Shereef Elnahal. “It will also empower VA to send helpful information to our partner health systems that they can then offer to veterans in their care — including information about new benefits we are offering under the PACT Act, no cost emergency suicide care, and more.”
Future goals of the pledge
The data sharing goals outlined in this pledge could greatly benefit veteran patients and the providers who care for them, while helping reduce financial burden for veterans. For example, this type of information sharing could help inform a non-VA doctor that a veteran experiencing an acute suicidal crisis should receive care at no cost, under VA’s new policy. Additionally, it could inform a non-VA doctor about how the PACT Act could help a veteran patient – thus empowering the provider to encourage that veteran to file for benefits.
As a part of the pledge, VA and the signatories will continuously develop and provide capabilities that support three objectives:
- Accurately identify veterans when they seek care from providers in the community.
- Connect veterans with VA and community resources that promote health and health care — especially VA services that lower veterans’ out-of-pocket expenses.
- Responsively and timely coordinate care for shared patients — whether they are enrolled in VA health benefits, including exchange of information about care requested and provided.
Any health system or provider that supports the pledge’s objectives is encouraged to participate. Those signing the pledge begin their work in October, striving to provide proof-of-concept in early 2024.
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