Dr. Richard Stone is the acting executive in charge of the Veterans Health Administration.
Health care is personal, and trust comes from feeling that your providers know you and your health issues. When I see patients, I want to spend as much time as possible addressing whatever brought them into the exam room, not having them repeat their medical history over and over again. Making sure every member of their care team has the right information is key to delivering safe, high-quality care in a coordinated way. Today, that often means sharing health information electronically between providers or facilities.
With the launch of the VA MISSION Act this past June, VA expanded Veterans’ access to community care. We use the Veteran’s Health Information Exchange (VHIE) to securely share health information with our trusted network of community providers. This seamless electronic access to patient medical history helps your providers make more informed treatment decisions – and drives better health outcomes.
VA has been using VHIE since 2009 to securely share vital health information with outside providers, but under prior law, VA could only do this for Veterans who opted to share information via VHIE. The MISSION Act gives us the opportunity to improve care coordination, allowing VA to automatically and securely share health information when you have an appointment with your community provider, and this change will go into effect in early 2020.
The benefits of sharing
We encourage all Veterans to take advantage of automatic, secure sharing via VHIE to give their providers a more complete view of their medical history. Doing so enables community providers to:
- Better understand your health history so they can spend more time focusing on what’s important to you.
- Develop a safer, more effective treatment plan.
- Coordinate with your VA care team to improve your overall health, without repeating tests, for example.
You will always have the ability to opt out of VHIE sharing if that is your preference. You can currently submit a VA Form 10-10164 to your facility’s Release of Information Officer, and an option to complete and submit this form electronically will be available soon. Choosing to opt out will not impact your ability to access community care, and you can opt back in at any time.
VA takes the responsibility of protecting information, such as your personally identifiable information and medical information, very seriously. We follow and exceed all of the stringent security standards for IT systems which contain patient health information from the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). We only provide medical records to trusted community providers who share VA’s focus on privacy controls and safeguards.
Veterans trust VA to deliver quality, timely care every single day, and under the MISSION Act, we are delivering more health care choices than ever before. Trust in VA outpatient care has jumped to 87.7 percent, but we know we can do even better. I hope you will trust VA to securely deliver your healthcare records to your community provider, so they can provide you with the best care possible. Our nation’s Veterans deserve nothing less.
Dr. Richard Stone is the executive in charge at the Veterans Health Administration