The Social Security Administration’s (SSA) disability determination process involves medical record retrieval and a comprehensive medical records review. The SSA has introduced the Health IT program that brings the speed and power of electronic medical records to the disability determination process. Electronic records allow the Administration to obtain the required medical records in a matter of seconds to minutes because they can be easily transmitted from one system to another. As a result, they can review the medical records more quickly and make a determination also much quicker than earlier. This means that a genuine claimant will get the help he/she needs faster. In this program, Social Security partners with health information exchanges (HIEs), hospitals and other qualified healthcare organizations that give priority to health IT and are experienced with electronic medical records exchange. The partnering organizations benefit in terms of reduced costs, streamlined operations, and can earn a leading position in the use of health IT. Once the medical request process is streamlined, partnering organizations need not waste time responding to requests for information and can focus on providing improved patient care. Moreover, they also get to save on paper, printing, postage expenses, and labor costs associated with health information management.
Many healthcare organizations including Architrave Health, LLC, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC), Kaiser Permanente, Oregon Community Health Information Network (OCHIN), Parkland Health and Hospital System, United States Department of Veterans Affairs, New Mexico Health Information Collaborative and others are already partners in this federal program. These organizations fully endorse the program for the many advantages it brings such as:
- Better healthcare
- Improved efficiency and streamlined operations
- Time, money and resource- saving program
- Faster disability decisions
- Ensures leadership in health IT
Johns Hopkins Medicine has now joined hands with Social Security as a health IT partner -this partnership is the latest in this collaboration program that is good for both patients and providers. Johns Hopkins will allow Social Security to access their electronic medical records. Headquartered in Baltimore, Johns Hopkins is one of the leading healthcare systems in the US and serves more than 2.8 million outpatient visitors annually. They will now transmit complete secure medical records for social security disability applicants, with the appropriate patient consent. The SSA will receive the records within minutes or hours whereas the traditional paper record transmission would have taken weeks via the manual process.
Nancy A. Berryhill, acting commissioner of Social Security, said, “This fast, safe, and secure method for receiving medical records will significantly shorten the time it takes to make a disability decision and makes the process more efficient.” She said that in late June Social Security began receiving electronic medical records from University of Utah Health based in Salt Lake City and Stormont Vail Health, based in Topeka, Kansas. The SSA has plans to continue establishing health IT partnerships with new high-volume organizations, while implementing additional facilities with existing partners.
Around 11, 000, 000 Americans are receiving some form of disability benefits from the SSA at present. In addition, millions more have applied and are waiting for a disability determination. These huge figures highlight the significance of the program for disabled Americans. Large volume disability applications in turn increase the need for medical record review for attorneys handling disability cases. The health IT program is expected to speed up the entire disability determination process and make the benefits more quickly available to eligible claimants.