SSA seeks more access to NHIN

The agency wants providers to submit medical records electronically to support disability claims

The Social Security Administration wants to allow hospitals and doctors to transmit electronic records through the Nationwide Health Information Network to help SSA determine the eligibility of applicants for federal disability support.

SSA published a request for information June 29 on the Federal Business Opportunities Web site that outlined its need to expand the automatic submission of medical records for its disability eligibility determinations.

The agency relies on hospitals and doctors to provide medical information to support applicants’ requests for disability insurance or supplemental security income. The paperwork is labor-intensive, difficult to obtain and inconsistent, the RFI states.

SSA requests about 15 million to 20 million medical records a year. Some hospitals, doctors and health clinics respond slowly or do not respond at all, forcing SSA to schedule additional consultations and examinations with applicants, the agency said.

Officials are asking for feedback on their proposal to recruit additional health care providers to provide such records electronically through a health information exchange system. “Automating the solution for release of information will save time and money for the providers and will also make SSA’s decision-determination process more efficient and effective,” the RFI states.

The agency is considering awarding fixed-price contracts to expand the number of health care providers that participate in NHIN. The contracts would be awarded through full and open competition to organizations that represent health information exchanges, regional health information organizations, general practitioners and specialists.

Money provided under the economic stimulus law will help support NHIN’s expansion, the notice states. Responses are due by July 22.

About the Author

Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.

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