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Veterans Affairs Bill Provides Opportunity for Data Transparency at VA, Which Can Pick Up Where Congress Left Off

August 07, 2014 5:21 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

Washington, D.C.-The Data Transparency Coalition (DTC) and the Health Data Consortium today applauded Congress for including forward-looking open data provisions in the Veterans’ Access to Care through Choice, Accountability, and Transparency Act but urged the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (VA) to standardize all the data that will now be produced.

Included in the bill were several provisions that move the VA forward as envisioned by President Obama’s May 2013 Open Data Policy including a mandate for information covering patient safety, quality-of-care and outcomes be published as “a comprehensive database” within 180 days.

The bill does not explicitly require the department to use consistent data standards to make the newly published information fully searchable and comparable.

“The VA Reform bill has provided a wide opening for the VA to take the already Congressionally-mandated publishing of comprehensive performance metrics to the next level by applying consistent, nonproprietary data standards, such as common fields and formats. Data standards would make the information significantly more useful,” said Hudson Hollister, Executive Director of the Data Transparency Coalition, the world’s only trade group focused on the adoption of data standards within government.

The bill also requires VA facilities to participate in the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)’ “Hospital Compare” open data portal which provides the public with information concerning a number of measures including rates of readmission, infection and 30-day mortality rates.

“The VA Reform bill provides much needed transparency that can enhance health outcomes and improve the delivery of care for our veterans.” said Dwayne Spradlin, President & CEO, Health Data Consortium (HDC).

“We are especially encouraged to see the VA participate in HHS’ Hospital Compare portal that can foster even more accountability and greater patient engagement. We also hope that going forward, the VA will report these measures in a manner that is consistent with other public programs and the private sector to empower patients and their families when making decisions about their healthcare.”

The two organizations will monitor the VA’s implementation work, especially its collaboration with the White House to apply the principles of the Open Data Policy to the newly published data sets and any efforts to establish department-wide data standards.

“Our Coalition members are eager to use standardized government data to help citizens hold their government accountable, assist federal leaders in monitoring performance, and automate compliance reporting,” said Hollister.




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