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Protecting Your Personal Health Information

The Department of Veterans Affairs takes safeguarding and protecting your information very seriously. You should, too. You control access to your personal information. It is your responsibility to keep your information private and protected. To help protect your privacy, My HealtheVet is providing you with some important points to remember:

Passwords

  • Choose a smart password. Your password is your first line of defense

  • Keep your passwords secret, safe and secure. If you need to write them down, put them in a safe, secure place

  • You should not share your password with others. Treat your password like you would your credit card. Remember, your passwords open up records to your personal information

  • Consider changing your password every so often or if you ever think someone might know what it is. (The recommendation is to change your password every three months.)

  • Do not re-use your password on other sites. This may allow others to steal your password from less secure websites

Downloading Information

If you download your health or service information, make sure it is to a safe and secure location:

  • You may want to download your information to a CD or flash drive. If so, consider purchasing an encrypted flash drive. You may also encrypt or require a password to access a CD

  • Keep your flash drive or other device in a safe place - just like you do all of your other important information

  • When you no longer need the information on your flash drive or CD, erase it

  • If you are using a public computer, the safest way to view your health data is to choose the view/print option for the .TXT file. If you chose to open or download a PDF file, you create a temporary file on the computer. This file can be viewed by others. To reduce the chance of others viewing your VA Blue Button and/or VA Continuity of Care Document you should not download your data when using public or shared computers.

Printing

  • Make sure you take all printed pages from the printer. We know it is easy to get distracted and leave something behind, do not let that something be your personal information!

  • Keep paper copies in a safe and secure place like a locked desk drawer or a personal safe

  • Destroy paper copies you no longer need by shredding or burning them

Sharing

  • If you share paper copies of your records or flash drives with family members or caregivers, make sure that they safeguard your information too!

  • Avoid sharing your password with others. Remember, you control access to your personal health information. Protect it and keep it safe

  • Do not share your VA Blue Button file by sending it to someone by email. Email is not secure and can travel over the Internet without protection

Email

  • Email is not secure and can travel over the Internet without protection. Because of this, someone other than the sender may be able to access or tamper with it

  • You should not send emails that contain personal information. This includes social security number, full name, street address, birth date, mother's maiden name, or any information or combination of information that can be used to personally identify you or someone else

  • If you wish to send your information by email, you need to use encryption software to protect your message and any file you attach to your email. You can learn much more from US-CERT