SSA to use health network to evaluate disability claims

The Social Security Administration will begin using the Nationwide Health Information Network in early 2009 to evaluate disability claims, according to an agency announcement released Dec. 16.

NHIN is designed to connect providers, consumers and others involved in health care. SSA will use the network to receive medical records for some disability applicants. The records help SSA officials determine how many of the 2.6 million annual disability applicants should receive assistance. Agency officials hope NHIN will reduce the time it takes to make an eligibility decision.

“This safe and secure method for receiving electronic medical records will allow us to improve our service to the public by cutting days, if not weeks, off the time it takes to make a disability decision,” said SSA Commissioner Michael Astrue.

NHIN should also make it less labor-intensive for medical workers to submit records.

SSA is working with MedVirginia, the North Carolina Healthcare Information and Communications Alliance, and Kaiser Permanente to implement NHIN.

The network is part of a Health and Human Services Department initiative that multiple government agencies and private-sector entities support.

About the Author

Doug Beizer is a staff writer for Federal Computer Week.

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