VA Proposes to Ease Requirements Around Release of Patient Information to Community Partners

On Friday, January 19, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) released a proposed rule focused on revising the consent requirements around the release of VA medical records. The rule would clarify that a valid consent authorizing VA to release the patient’s confidential VA medical records to a health information exchange (HIE) community partner may be established not only by VA’s physical possession of the written consent form, but also by the HIE community partner’s written (electronic) attestation that the patient has, in fact, provided such consent.  Comments on the proposed rule are due March 20, 2018.  

 

HIMSS is interested in this topic as it seeks to ensure that our nation’s veterans are receiving the best, most informed healthcare, as well as support for policies that increase the exchange health information to drive better health outcomes.  This revision would ensure that more community health care providers and other HIE community partners can deliver informed medical care to patients by having access to the patient’s VA medical records at the point of care.

 

This change would also allow VA to more expediently provide veterans’ records for the adjudication of their Social Security Administration (SSA) disability claims, and allow for VA to continue innovating and creating new ways for veterans to receive timely and high quality health care.

 

VA is putting two new criteria in place to support this proposed rule: HIE community partners must provide written attestation that the patient has submitted legally sufficient consent to them, which will most likely be electronic, but is not required to be in the proposed rule; and, a requirement that VA have the ability to retrieve or obtain the written consent an HIE community partner can make the consent form available to VA within 10 business days of its attestation. This can be accomplished either by storing the written consent form electronically for access by VA or by sending the written consent form to VA.