The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) said it will implement new procedures by January 2020 to improve medical information-sharing for veterans accessing healthcare in their communities, in accordance with the VA Maintaining Internal Systems and Strengthening Integrated Outside Networks Act (MISSION Act).

The MISSION Act requires VA to change its procedures for electric health information-sharing, and VA said it’s moving from “an ‘opt-in’ to an ‘opt-out’ model of electronic health information sharing” so that “Veterans will no longer be required to provide signed, written authorization for VA to release electronic health information to community providers for the purposes of receiving medical treatment.”

“VA shares health information with community providers using a secure and safe electronic system called the Veterans Health Information Exchange,” VA said in a press release today. “This electronic exchange of information improves patient safety – particularly during emergency situations – and allows for improved care coordination for Veterans receiving care in the community.”

Veterans who do not want their medical information shared electronically, however, can submit an opt-out-of-sharing form to the Release of Information Office at local VA medical centers at any time, including before procedures change in January.

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