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Verizon Expands Medical Data Exchange

Addition of medical images and lab test results positions the firm to tap into the mushrooming health IT and electronic medical record markets.

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As Verizon prepares for the shift in healthcare from paper-based systems to electronic medical records (EMRs), the company announced Thursday that its medical data exchange platform will now accommodate the sharing of medical images and lab results between physicians and other clinicians.

Launched in March, the Verizon Medical Data Exchange is transitioning from a service that provided only transcriptionist-to-physician and physician-to-physician sharing of dictated notes to an exchange that now allows healthcare delivery organizations to share a broader range of digital records such as X-rays, blood tests, and other lab results.

One of the original members of the exchange is MD-IT, a Boulder, Colo.- based company that provides medical documentation software and services. By linking its platform to the exchange, MD-IT's 7,000 physicians nationwide can share medical documents, which speeds the diagnosis and treatment of patients while eliminating the financial burden of investing in new technology.

According to Robin Daigh, VP of marketing and business development at MD-IT, the strategy has been to draw in the dictation transcription providers first, because the vast majority of medical notes are created and stored with this group. "The idea was to get those folks first because, for our clients, the greater the different types of notes and the different types of patient information available on the exchange, the more valuable it is," Daigh said.

Currently a PDF, a text, or an image file can be sent securely through the exchange. Verizon hopes medical facilities will see this method of transporting records as a better alternative than sending documents by fax or snail mail.

Further, Verizon wants to tap into a medical records market that is evolving. Currently, medical data transport standards are lacking and EMRs are being built around hospital systems which, in many cases, drive the adoption of one type of EMR technology that forms the nucleus for the practice community.

"What you find is that most hospital systems basically created an EMR environment, and then they try to bring people into that environment by signing them up for that EMR," said Ardi Kazarian, senior product manager of medical data exchange for Verizon Business. "The problem with most of the systems is that to do any kind of communication with anybody else you have to write an interface and so you are talking about potentially writing hundreds of interfaces out into a community to reach all the different systems that are out there."

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