By Mary Mosquera
Friday, November 06, 2009
The Social Security Administration plans to start sharing health information electronically with the Veterans Affairs and Defense departments to speed the processing of claims by veterans who apply for SSA disability benefits, the agency’s top health IT executive said Nov. 6. In February, SSA, VA and DOD will begin exchanging structured, machine-readable health data across a network that conforms to nationwide health information network (NHIN) standards, said Jim Borland, SSA’s special advisor for health IT. SSA’s health information sharing project with the military will follow an NHIN-based test of care coordination and electronic record sharing in Jan. between DOD, VA and Kaiser Permanente, which often treat patients in common. “VA has been exchanging information with Social Security for years, but it has been digital paper, like PDFs,” Borland said at a meeting of an advisory panel on SSA’s future technology systems and health IT strategy. The development of NHIN services has been critical to SSA’s expansion of electronic health information exchange, Borland said. In Virginia, where SSA gathers electronic health records from rural healthcare providers via MedVirginia, a central Va.-based health information exchange, SSA’s disability determination process has been cut in half, from 90 days to 47 days, he said.