HIMSS voices support for VA proposal to ease requirements for medical record sharing

HIMSS penned a letter March 20 to U.S. Department of Veterans Secretary David J. Shulkin, MD, to voice its support for a proposed rule easing the process for sharing medical records between VA facilities and community providers.

Under current law, the VA must have physical possession of a veteran's written consent form to share his or her medical record with a community provider, such as a health information exchange, according to the Politico Morning eHealth newsletter.

The Consent for Release of VA Medical Records Proposed Rule, published Jan. 19, would ask community providers to attest that a patient has submitted adequate consent to the organization. The VA would then have the option to obtain this written consent within 10 business days of the provider's attestation.

"This proposed reinterpretation of existing regulations will help facilitate better sharing of patient's records with community healthcare providers, health plans, governmental agencies and other entities participating in electronic HIEs," the letter reads.

To facilitate the exchange of health information between VA facilities and other local healthcare organizations, HIMSS also suggested the agency adopt an "opt-out" model for providing patient medical information to HIEs. This approach contrasts the system's current "opt-in" model, in which patients must provide consent for their records to be shared with an HIE.

"Given the upward trajectory of more open data sharing models across the nation, HIMSS encourages VA to closely examine adopting an opt-out model for exchanging veterans' healthcare data with its community partners," the letter reads.

To access HIMSS's letter, click here.

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