SSA to share data with 15 more health information exchanges

Agency expands network of health exchanges that provide patient data to speed processing of SSA disability determinations

The Social Security Administration has awarded $17.4 million to health data exchanges in 12 states that it will begin exchanging patient medical information electronically, the has agency said.


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SSA wants to expand the network of health exchanges that provide patient data to the agency to speed the processing of SSA disability income determinations.

A year ago, SSA and health exchange MedVirginia went live on a collaboration to funnel information from Virginia providers through MedVirginia to the SSA to help it make disability determinations. The exchange has reduced the time it takes to collect the data to a matter of days, rather than weeks or months, SSA said in a news release. Each of the exchanges is receiving a grant of economic stimulus law funding of approximately $300,000 to $3 million.

The data will be sent through the Health and Human Services Department’s Nationwide Health Information Network, a pilot project that sets up common protocols for exchange of the data. To connect to the network, MedVirginia uses the open-source Connect software suite developed by HHS.

The SSA needs to move to electronic data exchange to shorten the processing of its 15 million requests for records associated with disability claims, SSA Commissioner Michael Astrue said.

“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,” Astrue said.

Contracts were awarded to:

  • Southeastern Michigan Health Association (Mich.), $3 million
  • Cal Regional Health Information Organization (Calif.), $1.6 million
  • Science Applications International Corporation (Va.), $1.6 million; CareSpark (Tenn.), $1.4 million
  • HealthBridge (Ohio), $1.4 million
  • Central Virginia Health Network/MedVirginia (Va.), $1.1 million
  • Lovelace Clinic Foundation (N.M.) $1.1 million
  • Memorial Hospital Foundation & Memorial Hospital of Gulfport Foundation, Inc. (Miss.), $1.1 million
  • EHR Doctors Inc. (Fla.), $1 million
  • Wright State University, Healthlink (Ohio), $999,000
  • Marshfield Clinic Research Foundation (Wisc.), $998,000
  • Community Health Information Collaborative, Minn., $977,000
  • Douglas County Individual Practice Association (Ore), $502,000
  • Regenstrief Institute, Inc. (Ind.), $350,000.
  • Oregon Community Health Information Network (Ore.), $284,000.

The SSA expects to receive 3.3 million applications for disability income in fiscal 2010, a 27 percent increase over fiscal 2008. Experts say disability claims tend to increase during a recession.

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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