The Department of Veteran Affairs (VA), the Social Security Administration (SSA) and The Sequoia Project’s eHealth Exchange have partnered on a health IT initiative to enable improved electronic health information exchange in order to speed disability determinations for veterans.
The health data exchange initiative will enable all Social Security disability case processing sites to receive medical records electronically from all VA facilities, according to a press release.
“Currently, when eligible Veterans apply for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits the average wait time for Social Security to receive paper records from VA can take months; this partnership allows Social Security and VA to share the Veteran’s health information electronically in minutes. The Social Security and VA partnership allows VA to continue to be a leader in interoperability efforts among federal partners while improving overall quality of life for our Veteran patients,” David Shulkin, M.D., Under Secretary for Health of the Department of Veterans Affairs, said in a statement.
Earlier this year, the Department of Defense’s Military Health System (MHS) and the eHealth Exchange expanded cooperation to enable electronic health data sharing for more than 9.4 million active duty service members, veterans, retirees, and families served by the MHS. This initiative provides medical professionals at partner healthcare organizations in the private sector with a secure view of health records for all TRICARE beneficiaries to support better care decisions, unless a patient chose to opt out. Additionally, MHS patients do not have to hand-carry copies of health records when seeking care from partner providers.
“The military population has unique care needs due to their types of injuries as well as the mobile nature of deployments,” Michael Matthews, eHealth Exchange coordinating committee member and board chair for The Sequoia Project, said in a statement. “Regardless of what a patient is being treated for or where they are being treated, collaboration with the private sector via the eHealth Exchange helps deliver effective care for veterans, servicemen and women as well as their families.”
The eHealth Exchange network includes participation from nearly 50 percent of all U.S. hospitals, four federal agencies, more than 31,000 medical groups, more than 3,400 dialysis centers, and more than 8,300 pharmacies, such as Walgreens and CVS MinuteClinic. Being able to share health records with non-military health facilities is critical to effectively care for military personnel and their families. In 2015, roughly one-third of outpatient and 40 percent of inpatient care for MHS beneficiaries was provided by private, non-military care providers. Approximately one-third of MHS prescriptions were filled in the private sector as well.
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