Electronic filing to speed up disability claims
February 01, 2010
Fifteen healthcare providers and networks have received $17.4 million in contract awards to provide electronic medical records to Social Security, according to an announcement today (Feb. 1, 2010) by Michael J. Astrue, agency commissioner. These electronic medical records, which will be sent through the Nationwide Health Information Network (NHIN), based upon a successful test of electronic use in Massachusetts and Virginia, will significantly shorten the time it takes to make a disability decision by replacing the use of paper documents. The contract awards are funded through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

"Using health information technology will improve our disability programs and provide better service to the public," Astrue said. "We've seen a significant increase in disability applications. To process them, the agency sends more than 15 million requests annually for medical records to healthcare providers. This largely paper-bound workload is generally the most time-consuming part of the disability decision process. The use of health IT will dramatically improve the speed, accuracy, and efficiency of this process, reducing the cost of making a disability decision for both the medical community and the American taxpayer."

An initiative of the Department of Health and Human Services supported by multiple government agencies and private sector entities, the use of NHIN requires patient authorization. Social Security expects to receive more than 3.3 million applications in fiscal year (FY) 2010, a 27 percent increase over FY 2008.

Contracts were awarded to the following organizations:

Agency proposals for the authorized release of medical information through integration with NHIN had to have been submitted to Social Security by a September 18, 2009 deadline.

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