A new Tricare partnership that will allow some civilian healthcare providers to access military family health records from on-base doctors does not necessarily include doctors in Tricare's three regional contractor networks.
Currently, non-active duty patients must hand-carry records to off-base doctors if they wish them to transfer. The new system, which goes live June 1, will allow providers in limited health care networks with whom Tricare has partnered to access military treatment facility-based (MTF) records through the eHealth Exchange system. That means if a patient is seen off-base after getting care from an on-base doctor, his new provider would be able to see his actual health records electronically, Tricare officials said this month.
"Imagine a scenario where you have a significant medical history or relevant medical history," said Regine Julian, Tricare's patient centered medical home chief of primary care, during a recent press briefing. "The provider in the private sector may need details that you don't have at your fingers. They can look up your details … to ensure that the patient has a good outcome."
But not every civilian doctor is a part of a network that has signed up with the eHealth Exchange system, and just because a civilian doctor is a Tricare network provider does not mean he or she will have access. To use the system, a doctor must be a part of a healthcare network that subscribes to the eHealth Exchange. None of Tricare's current regional contractors -- Health Net, Humana Military and UnitedHealthcare -- currently subscribe to the system, meaning that those doctors may not have access.
In-network Tricare providers could have access to the eHealth Exchange if they are also providers within other networks who take part in the system. But of the over 110 health care networks who take part in the eHealth Exchange, which includes Kaiser Permanente, Tricare currently only works with 11, although officials said they will be adding more providers in the future. Kaiser Permanente is not on the current Tricare list.
"The Defense Health Agency is currently prioritizing the participants on the eHealth Exchange list for future onboarding," officials said in a statement. "Additional networks -- prioritized by claims amount and volume, and other factors -- may be added within the coming months."
Officials said the network will be especially helpful for MTF patients who leave the military, those who switch from a MTF to a civilian provider as a part of a military move or swap to Tricare Standard, and retirees who from Tricare Prime and into Tricare for Life. It could also potentially help users who are seen at an off-base urgent care facility or emergency room.
Patients who do not wish to have their healthcare records shared over the system may opt out by printing, filling out and mailing this form, officials said.
-- Amy Bushatz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org