VA to outsource retrieval of medical records from private providers

The Department of Veterans Affairs will bring in an unspecified private contractor to help reduce the time required to obtain medical records of veterans from private physicians. The idea isn't as much about improving interoperability, though, as it is about streamlining claims decisions and processing.

The VA has set a goal of processing all claims within 125 days with 98 percent accuracy by 2015, InformationWeek reports. To this end, the department is looking to cut the amount of time to get records from outside providers from today's average of about 40 days down to 7 to 10 days.

VA Secretary Eric Shinseki said this week that the department will outsource records retrieval to a private entity as part of a pilot test. This project differs from the Virtual Lifetime Electronic Record initiative between the VA, Military Health System and private integrated delivery networks in that the contractor will retrieve paper records rather than EMRs from outside providers, then scan and transmit the records to the VA over a secure connection.

The pilot will involve the handling of about 60,000 records requests between regional benefits offices in New York, Phoenix, St. Louis, Chicago, Indianapolis, Portland, Ore., Anchorage, Alaska, and Jackson, Miss. Participating veterans will have to sign waivers authorizing the release of their medical records from private entities to the VA when they apply for VA health benefits, according to InformationWeek.

For additional information:
- check out this InformationWeek story

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