Southeast Michigan Health Information Exchange Links with SSA

Recently, the Southeast Michigan Health Information Exchange has approved and validated the exchange of electronic health information with the Social Security Administration. What does this mean for Social Security recipients in Southeast Michigan? Hopefully, it means faster processing of Social Security Disability applications.

Electronic medical records, known as EMR, are the future of medical documentation and medical records-keeping. Hospitals around the country are transitioning from paper-based records to electronic medical records. This means that medical information pertaining to individuals is now available to a larger number of medical providers, health information networks and, of course, the Social Security Administration.

In order to facilitate this exchange and the updating of information technology, the Southeast Michigan Health Information Exchange received a grant totaling nearly $3 million from the Social Security Administration in 2010. The purpose of the grant was to develop Social Security Disability related information, utilizing protocols developed by the growing National Health Information Network.

How is this Information to be Used for Social Security Disability Claims?

The Social Security Administration may request information in order to verify Social Security Disability claims. The Social Security Administration requests more than 15 million records every year throughout the nation in order to verify Social Security Disability claims. They process more than 3 million claims every year, but it takes time. In its effort to speed up the processing time for Social Security Disability claims, the Social Security Administration is hoping, through electronic transfer of information, to reduce the national average wait times from over a year (at an average of 457 days) to under three weeks.

Speedier processing of disability claims will get money into the hands of those who need it much faster than today's snail pace rate. Electronic health records and health information exchanges allow hospitals, imaging facilities, payers, pharmacies, and the Social Security Administration to share data instantly. Health information exchange channels provide secure and confidential transfer of information between providers and networks through specially encoded systems that require individual and confidential passwords for access.

Michigan is also home to the Michigan Health Connect Health Information Exchange System that encompasses nearly 50 hospitals. The ability to share medical information and prognosis data is being shared with the Social Security Administration and will help facilitate background research and verification of disabling medical conditions and approval of disability claims.

The Southeast Michigan Health Information Exchange received the grant through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. In order to process the increasing number of Social Security Disability applications, the Social Security Administration hopes to reduce the amount of time it takes for its processors to request paper-based information. Using electronic health information technologies will better serve the public and will improve accuracy, efficiency, and speed in this process.

The field of health information technology continues to grow and develop, offering more integrated and comprehensive care not only for Social Security Disability recipients, but also for overall patient care and for Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries when it comes to claims processing.