US Department of Veterans Affairs Data
Clinical care and patient records data from the Department of Veterans Affairs. Includes information on beneficiaries, inpatient and outpatient claims, radiology and laboratory tests and results, cost information, and Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) data.
US veterans who utilize VA medical services
The VA restricts release and use of data containing Protected Health Information (PHI) for research use to VA employees with approved VA research protocols. For non-VA researchers, one option for using these data are to collaborate with a VA researcher which requires establishing a VA appointment known as “without compensation” (WOC) under the sponsorship of a VA research investigator to work on the sponsoring investigator’s research. Another option for non-VA researchers is to obtain HIPAA Authorization from each individual veteran to use their identified data. VA requirements for HIPPA Authorizations can be found in VHA Directive 1605.01 Privacy and Release of Information. HIPAA Authorization is similar to, but distinct from, the concept of informed consent. For more information, see Using Administrative Data for Randomized Evaluations.
Research projects that do not have a subject authorization to disclose protected health information, may send a written request addressed to the VHA Privacy Office (10P2C) at 810 Vermont Ave. N.W., Washington D.C. 20420. The request should identify the records sought and the purpose for which the records are needed. The VHA Privacy Office will request a copy of your IRB approval letter, protocol, and documented HIPAA waiver of authorization approved by your IRB or Privacy Board.
Publicly available documentation is limited. For researchers with a VA-approved project, a video and PDF handout describing the data request process can be found here. VA researchers can also access an intranet site with resources and guidance for using data and information systems, as well as the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) Data Portal. These links can be found here.
The Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA) provides free access to aggregated summary statistics on weekly claims processed. The VA recently launched an Open Data Initiative which is working to establish a portal where users can access aggregate data, metadata, and other information about VA data for free. In the meantime, users can access this data through the VA’s Enterprise Data Inventory (EDI).
Timeline for Access
The timeline for accessing VA data, after going through the above-mentioned steps, varies.
Files are updated annually, and are available on approximately a one year lag, with updates usually available in December.
Partial List of Variables
Demographic information; type of claim; claim procedure and diagnostic codes; ICD-9; ICD-10; CPT4; location of claim; lab test data: test; cost; code; results; radiology test data; prescriptions; vital statistics: date of death; Medicare data; Medicaid data
J-PAL Randomized Evaluations Using this Data Set
Doyle, Joseph J., Ewer, Steven M., and Todd H Wagner*. 2010. “Returns to Physician Human Capital in the United States: Evidence from Patients Randomized to Physicians Teams.” Journal of Health Economics, 29(6): 866-882.
Sohn, M.-W., Arnold, N., Maynard, C., Hynes, D.M., 2006. “Accuracy and completeness of mortality data in the Department of Veterans Affairs.” Population Health Metrics 4, b14.