Veterans’ health records will now be accessed for a CDC surveillance project to evaluate public health data.

In a press release, VA says it will support a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention project called Modernizing Death Reporting by “integrating patient mortality data from VA’s Electronic Health Record (EHR) system.” The data will be included in the Surveillance Strategy Report.

Mortality data helps identify variables of dying individuals. In the past, data from health records was slowly transmitted for research. Now, VA plants to dramatically increase the speed of data transmission. The increased speed will supposedly mitigate “any loss of data value due to decreased interoperability.”

Through the Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (FHIR)-based Advanced Programming Interfaces, the agency plans to throw down the gates for accessing veterans’ health records and data for research.

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So it seems like our health records are basically open to both public and private entities for practically every project under the sun that sounds at least remotely reasonable.

“Delivering data directly to CDC’s systems in this manner underscores VA’s commitment to a modern interoperability strategy,” said VA Secretary Robert Wilkie. “We look forward to future opportunities to enhance our partnerships and champion interoperability across the federal government.”

RELATED: Veterans Death Linked To VA Nurse Error

What Is FHIR At VA?

The agency provides the following summary about its FHIR projects, in italics:

We, the VA Open API Pledge signatories, will voluntarily collaborate with VA to map health data to industry standards (including the current and forthcoming versions of the Argonaut Project specifications of FHIR API over the next 18 months.

We will allow access to FHIR as mutually agreed via a standards acceleration collaborative that will be made freely available for anyone to use or share.

We will provide API access to tech-incubators for Veteran-designated mobile and web-based apps, clinician-designated applications for those who serve them, and choice care act partners responsible for coordinating their care via “bulk” access.

We intend to make the “common clinical data set” available but will work on an initial roster of additional FHIR resources – including scheduling, questionnaire, clinical notes, and patient encounters.

Your Feedback

What do you think about VA’s expansion of access to our electronic health records? Should the agency be blazing the trail for advancements in this field? Should our data be used for purposes that do not directly benefit veterans?

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28 COMMENTS

  1. In ten years as an advocate, (following ten years in the Navy), I have never seen such wanton disregard for peoples PRIVACY rights as I have with the VA. Why is it that the VA is absolved of the legal constrictions surrounding NOT sharing our PII, DNA and medical information with every Tom, Dick and Harry who pitches woo (and of course throws buckets of money at them!)???
    Since WHEN did we agree to share our info with the CDC? Where is that HIPAA authorization??? We have had cases whereby the VA employees refuse to speak with a spouse/caregiver, whom they have authorization to; yet this is what is passing for progress now?!?!? Once again, veterans are a number, a genome sequence and an artifact to be bartered, sold, or shared. Our CHOICE in the matter, our OPINION in the matter, does not concern them! I’d give up my disfigured right arm to have others stand with me and demand this is no longer tolerable. We are not currency, lab rats or property and the VA does not OWN our information!

    • Its actually worse than you think.

      Sharing the data with CDC is one thing, but as the old saying goes, Garbage In Garbage Out.

      How useful will this data be when the CDC will receive data showing Veteran X died from cancer, diabetes complications, heart failure, etc., when the real cause of death was the VA neglected the veterans health condition for months? Or the “treatment” provided to the veteran was never entered into his record or was sloppy at best?

      The only benefit I could possibly see to this sharing with the CDC is if they were specifically mandated to look at areas where neglect and malpractice contributed to the death.
      Those benefiting from this sharing will never look at that, so veterans will never benefit.

      As I said, its worse than you think.

      API stands for Application Programming Interface. That means the VA and the signatories to this Open API fiasco are essentially allowing access to veterans records so they can develop or improve on computer programs for cell phones, iPads, other mobile devices, etc. They don’t give a damn about your health condition, they care about selling software, and need access to the data to improve their interfaces…including a way for Choice providers to access and update your records.

      Click the link to see who signed onto this scam.

      Somebody has had a bug up their ass for a long time over selling software and interfaces to VA records. I suspect its some politically connected contractors and some VA flunky seeing dollar signs.

      Veterans care is a distant afterthought.

      • Good point 91 Veteran. I clicked the link and it didnt surprised me. They’ve been working on this before Obama care was forced on us. When I worked on the Hill about five years ago Tech companies in the DMV area was salivating over how to access veterans records under the guise of ‘we’ll improve your data transfer or make it simplified’.

    • Well said Lauren, as a old Navy corpsman with half of your career time. And my last year spent in Patient Admin at the USNA. This is wrong at all angles. But we’re just a number or placebo case to profit off.

      I spent a year on the Hill and I what I saw made me never work for the government again,ita all about profits and news pieces.

  2. Oh hell to the NO! This needs to be challenged in the federal courts. I do not, repeat, DO NOT give to VA the authorization to release any of my health records to ANYONE. Who is Wilkie to condone such a thing?

    • Thank you very much for your words in this case sir, and I agree with you that my personal health information is not for sale, and sharing across the board, with Tom, Dick, and Harry….. I was black-balled for ten years from getting a copy of my own health records!! And now, I am reading this article about how they will just hand over the same information, at will?!!

    • I just went to FB and Vets.gov and informed them that I have not given any authorization to VA to violate my HIPPA Rights by sharing my medical records with ANYONE. We need to find an attorney that will take at least a class action to stop this crap!

      • Those laws are not there for everyone, or many of us. Just like those phony signs/posters in the VA and others about our “rights and responsibilities” as patients. Totally propaganda and un-enforceible.

        Supposedly there are human rights, medical boards, health and human services, etc., that are supposed to investigate such complaints. They do not. But local harassment and such do increase mightily. With snippets of teasing to let me know they know everything that is going on and what I am trying to do. Nothing is made easy and not a one cares to offer up information or further leads for aid.

        There are also laws protecting the VA, civilian clinics and hospitals, from being investigated or charged. Like are they federally, state, or funded by special grants? Are they considered privately owned, state owned, corporate owned and possibly by silent partners we can find no info about for obvious reasons. Then play the game of trying to find out who is what and what is who and how funded or owned. You get one story from one state politicians or state agency, more bad info from another and on it goes. Like in one of my cases since a local med clinic claims to be privately owned by physcian’s associations they don’t have to abide by HIPPA violations. Told I must be their hospital in-patient during the events to be covered by HIPPA and such. Spent months trying to get info on them both being owned by the hospital or not or the hospital being immune from such laws in certain instances… like mine and dealing with the VA and secret in-office only notes or communications. That is claimed to be protected and NOT part of our files to be shared with us, me. This was the months long back and forth with Indiana’s congressman, senators, med boards to so-called health and human services and protection agencies. All a waste of time and effort for nothing but BS and covering-up, and being passes along for others to toy with. I have talked to staff and get one story, call the top dog’s secretaries and agencies to just hear more stories or defensive posturing from them all.

        During one surgery years back while on the table I was told to sign a form of consent for the surgeon. I had already signed such documents prior. Told going into the twilight sleep to sign them or the surgery would be postponed after waiting all day long for it. I signed it and was told I would get a copy of that form in recovery. Of course I didn’t have my glasses on. I did not nor ever get a copy of that form. Then was told by other staff that I didn’t need to sign a document then and others said I signed no document. What that was all about I’ll never know now. But with the well known gas-lighting and activism against vets and to protect the VA team nothing more came of it. Hell, they can put a chip in our asses at such times and we wouldn’t know any better. Or collected whatever samples they desired. We simply cannot trust anyone out there, period. It would take more than several batteries of well meaning lawyers to even begin to tackle all the bull shit going on in DC and out there full circle. And no heads will roll either.

  3. The CDC will find an epidemic of demoralization and greed. They will probably shut the VA down and put them all in quarantine.

  4. Looks like “Lie until they die” will be deployed in the private sector now too. I guess that’s one way to trim the Medicare budget.

  5. My health records are my PRIVATE records which I thought were protected from prying eyes.
    You should have to opt in for this research and if not the CDC should KEEP OUT!!!!!

  6. a month or so ago, i recieved a letter in the mail asking that i fill a form out so my va health care can be intergrated with out side hospitals. are they stupid? well, i didn’t fill it out, i still have the letter from them. and now,they want to go against my wishes, better yet, my decision of no. how dare them. we served our country,n and now, thier wanting to take our right of privacy away, rights that we fought for all to have.i voted republican, agree with them, no socialist health care for all. now they want to cram this down our throats? are they going to make all the politicans health records available to the public? the same people who talk that some veterans no longer deserve to posess a firearm , to hunt with, or to protect thier family? who the fuck are these people? i do not have the funds or ability, to fight this alone. i hope somebody listening can organize, petition, we need to stand together on this. we don’t need to be like europe. fuck a one world order. the u.s. use to be unique, different from other countries. these fat cats need the very same care we get. no body guards, no walls around thier mansions. if thier intention is to put us on a level playing field ,all peoples be the same,polititions should not think themselves special.

    • Michael, politics or voting won’t save or help us. I’ve been up alone against a wide variety of corrupt, illegal, evil practices and professionals for a lot of years. No end to it, no-one gives a shit really unless we are kitty cats and puppies or illegals. It’s still boils down to a total police state, having total control, an open air prison camp, one set of laws and care for those at the top, crap for us, and money of course. Red flagging laws to felony styled raids on vets just for mere accusations, or from scorned lovers is not for them (top dogs) but us peasants. No laws will help us like no-one out there is willing to take the heat or lose positions or seats at the country clubs to help any of us.

      I have tried locally and nationally to get my HIPPA, Constitutional, Disability Act rights, basic human rights, civil rights upheld. Ha. All I get is the brush off or excuse from anyone, every agency, med boards, state’s AG, lying media heads, and everyone you can imagine. We have no rights. How is it that it’s legal for the VA to play the games they do and pass it along to the civilian sector to continue on with their identity politics and activism (protecting the VA teams) to the point I am told it’s legal for health care clinics and major hospitals to withhold my files from them. After being treated and lied to like crap from the medical staff. And no claimed investigations are NOT actually investigated, just more attacks and black-balling in a corrupt community supported by all the excuse givers and head turners. Just like locally vet disability is NOT exempt from bankruptcy courts when documents and laws may claim otherwise. Why. And just more in the bucket of corruption and cover-ups so others can earn an extra buck. All the while the VSOs and other want to play games while many out here are suffering and committing suicide which has increased drastically… but no reports coming forth.

      I gotta laugh. People for years and generations think we have hope and can have trust in a very corrupt corporate or governmental machinery? My files and info has been spread around state wide and locally to no end. Local politicians, media jokers, all, think it’s funny as they tell me not to expect anything to be private today. As the ‘machines’ ensure we are censored to death, unable to form groups, are freely and legally targeted for any attack they do to us to instilling the fear of God and Corruption in most people out there.

      I went public, and on FB, and drive around with big signs in my truck still. All it has done is got me black-balled from anything dealing in a community from handy man help to games played putting things in the shop for repairs to still not having medical care… all think it’s funny. But the stories I hear is sad about the lying VA and corruption but the fears over-ride all else or taking stands themselves or with me… that makes them tremble with fear.

      This crap is nothing new either. Just like all the file sharing for swifter better care before. The secretive DNA compiling and wants for it to go internationally. The secretive blood testing for dope and booze until they came out in the open about it. Oh but they couldn’t test for AIDs or HIV, that’s illegal. The algorithms they claim used can predict our futures and temperaments, futures, etc. To the so-called “free health care insurance” out for civilians and all they have to do is give blood and do some test and they are in. But fail to give info about what those insurance companies and care clinics are storing and for what. But hey the sheep claim they’ll get free health insurance… and they do have to get all their vaccinations. Piss me off. Rant off. I hope this country implodes or the good lord sees fit to wipe this world clean again with an asteroid or monster meteor.

  7. Sadly, the VA continues to do what it likes and at the expense (once again) of those who so proudly served their country. Hopefully, someone will challenge this in the courts. None of us signed on to give out our private medical information. Secretary Wilkie needs to be held accountable for doing this unjust act.

  8. VA(vha) is a socialist entity and can do whatever they want. Kind of ironic since that is what we were supposed to be fighting against. VA is probably responsible for killing more veterans than all the wars in the last two centuries, and nobody cares. Socialism doesn’t work, everybody with half a brain knows. Why,then, are veterans subjected to it?

  9. This needs to be stopped via a lawsuit.. It needs to be voluntary only.. I did NOT give the V/A permission to use ANY of my data for any reason. None. I hope someone is able to put a stop to this.

  10. I have have one question How can I opt out of this. I am a disabled vet who doesn’t want every tom Dick and Harry let alone my government seeing my health records. 1wackywac

    • That is easy, Judy. Don’t opt in. If it is like the rest, you have to opt in and want it. If you like to gossip about your scars then you can opt in and call them up to show to the rest of your gossipers.

  11. I’m a former Health Service Manager in the Air Force, I am aware of HIPAA and PII as I kept Medical records, It has to have a judicial approval and also clearances to only release pertinent information for the research and has to have a release of information consent from the Veteran. They cant do that and we can sue them if they release our medical information records without our permission.

  12. I called the C.D.C. and told them I had questions about my shot records from Desert Storm, the gentlemen, stated what’s Desert Storm? I once went to an Advocate at the V.A. He turned on his Computer and said you told the Doctor, this and this, I was shocked, that this information, could be seen by anyone, Did you see a Serial Killer was caught in California last year, they said he mailed his D.N.A. in to a private group? This person was a Veteran my theory is he went to the V.A. and they took his D.N.A.? and made the connection, I am glad he was caught, I have nothing to hide, but I goggled V.A. and D.N.A. yeb, They started in 2016 doing D.N.A. test on Veterans.

  13. Remember they Consider the VETS as Guinney Pigs Of Medicine or Testing of other medicines down the road. I back in 2013 ask one of the Clerks if she can see all of my Info on my Visits etc. She said yup i can see whatever i want, then i knew we were Fkkkkd….

  14. I like every other red-blooded American am patriotic to a fault. Still even after all the VA’s finagling and deceiving antics I love my country for better and for worse and will support it in sickness and in health. If my medical records can be of benefit to others in preventing and curing disease, I feel it is my duty to serve. If my medical records can provide information that substantiates medical negligence on behalf of the VA and this information is used to vindicate the neglected veteran and will improve this mammoth of an organization, then I will gladly oblige. It is the least I can do to give back to the citizens of this country for providing an organization that takes care of its veterans who serve this country with courage and honor.

    However we all know there is good reason to be cynical of whatever the VA has plans to do. With centuries of this organization using veteran’s as Ginny pigs and being able to do whatever they want with rarely suffering the consequences for their egomaniacal and greedy behavior, they have deservingly, lost our trust. Unfortunately for us all this is just another example of “if everyone would be moral, ethical and altruistic, good things could come from this attempt at trying to improve the world for everyone”. With that being said it is always easier and somewhat cowardly to idly stand by the sidelines ridiculing others for trying. I know, I am guilty, but I have been bamboozled my whole entire life by these narcissists and have come to realize it’s impossible to win by playing “their” game we have to create a new game where everyone is treated with respect and everyone’s contribution is valued.

    I know rose-colored glasses – but we have to keep the dream alive, don’t we?

    Peace out

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