How VA will enhance data sharing efforts in 2020

Department of Veterans Affairs will enact the VA Mission Act in early 2020, which will allow the agency to automatically share VA patients' health information with their community providers, according to a Nov. 20 VA blog post.

Under the Mission Act, VA patients who have either been waiting more than 20 days for healthcare or would require a 30-minute drive to the nearest VA facility are eligible to see a medical provider within the community.

VA has used the Veteran's Health Information Exchange network to securely share patients' health data with outside community providers since 2009. However, under prior law, VA could only share information of veterans who opted to share data through the VHIE.

With the Mission Act, VA will be able to automatically and securely share health information when a patient has an appointment with their community provider. Patients will have the opportunity to opt-out of sharing their health information with outside providers.

"VA takes the responsibility of protecting information, such as personally identifiable information and medical information, very seriously," wrote Richard Stone, MD, executive in charge of the Veterans Health Administration, according to the blog post. "We follow and exceed all of the stringent security standards for IT systems which contain patient health information from [HIPAA.]"

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