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VA to Implement New Procedures in 2020 to Improve Medical Information Sharing Among Community Care Providers

The Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) announced it will implement new procedures by January 2020 aimed at improving medical information sharing among veterans accessing health care in the community. 

Currently, the VA shares health information with community providers using an electronic system called Veterans Health Information Exchange. The VA explained that they will change procedures for electronic health information sharing in accordance with Section 132 of the VA Maintaining Internal Systems and Strengthening Integrated Outside Networks Act of 2018 (MISSION Act). 

“The MISSION Act gives veterans greater access to care, whether at VA facilities or in the community,” VA Secretary Robert Wilkie said in a 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.” 

The agency said in a press release that the new changes will move the VA from an “opt-in” to an “opt-out” model of electronic health information sharing. 

“Veterans will no longer be required to provide signed, written authorization for VA to release electronic health information to community providers for the purposes of receiving medical treatment,” the VA explained. 

Veterans will have the option to opt-out of having their health information electronically shared through a form, VA Form 10-10164,  that is available on the VA website. The form should be submitted to the Release of Information Office at their nearest VA medical center. The agency noted that veterans who submitted the form, VA Forms 10-0484, prior to September 30, 2019, do not need to submit new forms. 

“VA is committed to protecting veteran privacy,” the agency said. “Only community health care providers and organizations that have partnership agreements with VA and are part of VA’s approved, trusted network may receive VA health information.”—Julie Gould 

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