VA bolsters medical info sharing with community care providers

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The Department of Veterans Affairs is taking steps to ensure that it shares medical record information with non-VA healthcare providers by implementing new procedures for access to the data.

Specifically, the VA will begin opting all veterans into medical information sharing with community providers.

Starting in January, the agency will transition from an “opt-in” to an “opt-out” model of data sharing so that veterans will no longer have to provide signed, written authorization for the VA to release electronic health information for the purposes of receiving medical treatment.

“This instant exchange of information can dramatically improve patient safety, especially during emergency situations,” contends the agency. “VA is committed to protecting veteran privacy. VA only shares veteran health information with specific community providers when a veteran is seeking medical care. Only community providers and organizations that have partnership agreements with VA and are part of VA’s approved, trusted network may receive VA health information.”

The Veterans Health Information Exchange enables the VA to securely share medical data electronically with community providers.

Health information shared with community providers includes:

· A list of health problems

· Allergies

· Medications

· Vital signs

· Immunizations

· Chemistry and hematology reports

· Discharge summaries

· Medical history

· Records of physicals

· Procedure results (e.g., X-ray reports)

· Progress notes

Those veterans who do not want their health information shared electronically with community providers can opt out by submitting VA Form 10-10164, which is available at the Release of Information Office at VA medical centers.

“Veterans who previously opted out on VA Form 10-0484 before September 30, do not need to submit new forms. However, veterans who restricted what information VA shared by submitting VA Form 10-0525 (restriction request) will need to opt out entirely by submitting Form 10-10164,” according to the agency.

The VA Maintaining Internal Systems and Strengthening Integrated Outside Networks (MISSION) Act of 2018 ensures that veterans do not need to take any action to share their health data by mandating information sharing with community providers to improve care coordination and continuity of care.

“The MISSION Act gives veterans greater access to care, whether at VA facilities or in the community,” said VA Secretary Robert Wilkie in a written statement. “We are providing seamless access to care, improving efficiency and helping to ensure veterans get the care they need, where and when they need it."

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