Sharing Records Called Key To VA Health Care

Jessica Floum | AZ Central | September 1, 2014

Retired Air Force Tech. Sgt. AnnaBelle Bryan damaged a knee, injured a foot and busted her shoulder twice during her 21 years of service. She hoped subsequent surgeries would allow her to qualify for disability benefits with the Veterans Benefits Administration. Bryan began the notoriously slow claims process three months early in hopes of receiving her disability status upon retirement.  It did not work out as she hoped.

One year after Bryan's 2012 retirement, as she and her husband prepared to move from Montgomery, Ala., to Salt Lake City, her disability status still had not been determined. Her appointment with the Montgomery VA had been moved and then rescheduled without her knowledge. The copies of her health records she had sent the VA were nowhere to be found.

...The record-sharing relationship between the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Department of Defense should allow them to share patient health records across agencies and clinics, yet records such as Bryan's are still falling through the cracks.  A July audit by the Defense Department's inspector general found that the Defense Department failed to make proper records transfers to the VA. In the Army, 77 percent of records transferred in 2013 were not timely and 28 percent were not complete, the audit said...