Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Faster Access to Records

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is using health technology and a contractor to reduce the average time needed to obtain healthcare records from private physicians. A private contractor and the internet are being used to speed claims decisions. The VA is going to test about 50,000 records requests among regional benefits offices in Phoenix, New York City, St. Louis, Portland, Oregon, Chicago, Anchorage, Alaska, Indianapolis, and Jackson Mississippi. At the end of the test, VA officials will decide whether to cancel, modify, or expand any changes in procedures nationwide.

When private medical records support a veteran’s application for benefits, a contractor will quickly retrieve the records from the healthcare provider, scan them into a digital format and send the material to the VA via a secure transmission. In all cases, veterans must sign documents approving the release of their medical records to the department from private healthcare providers.

This pilot project hopes to validate initial estimates that a contractor can provide records required to process veterans’ disability compensation claims in 7 to 10 days instead of the VA’s average of 40 days. This also helps the VA staff to focus on core duties and to process claims more quickly.