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Sharing Health Records Safely

New process offers Veterans greater control

Veteran sharing his health records on computerVA has expanded Veterans' access to non-VA health care providers through our new community care program. VA's network of authorized community providers is growing. This means we need to make sure those providers have access to the health information about patients that they need.

That's where the Veterans Health Information Exchange (VHIE) comes in. Starting April 17, 2020, your community providers who are in VA's network and participate in VHIE will be able to securely view your VA electronic health information. Previously, you had to complete a form to authorize this electronic sharing.

"As a Family Medicine physician and Army Veteran, this is a positive change with tremendous benefits," says Dr. Jennifer MacDonald, Acting Chief Consultant to the Principal Deputy Under Secretary for Health. Not only does this electronic sharing help you avoid carrying paper copies of your record to providers, but this secure, seamless exchange of information can dramatically improve your safety, especially in emergencies."

VA has been using health information exchange (HIE) technology since 2009.  This is a secure way to share information such as:

  • prescriptions and medications

  • allergies

  • illnesses

  • laboratory results when you see providers in other health networks.

This change is a significant improvement. The VA MISSION Act removes certain restrictions on this kind of electronic sharing, helping your providers - in VA facilities and in the community - to make sure your full care team has the information they need to:

  • Better understand your health history and be able to focus more time on what is important to you

  • Develop safe, more effective treatment plans

  • Work together to keep you safe and improve your overall health.

Manage your sharing options

You do not need to take any action for VA to start sharing your records through VHIE. However, the idea of sharing personal health information electronically may be uncomfortable for some Veterans. VHIE follows all federal privacy laws, including the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). Community health care providers must be a part of VA's approved, trusted network to receive your health information. If you do not want your care team to receive information via VHIE, you may opt out of sharing. This means your community providers may not receive your medical record before you receive treatment. This could put you at risk.

There is no deadline to opt out. You can do so at any time. After April 17, you don't need to take any action to allow secure electronic sharing if you haven't previously opted out. If you have previously opted out but want to start sharing again, you may also opt back in. Changing your sharing preference will not affect your access to community care through VA. Visit to learn how to manage your sharing options online via My HealtheVet.

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Veterans Health Information Exchange

Created March 18, 2020