The South East Michigan Health Information Exchange (SEMHIE) announced today that it has officially completed all milestones to provide its E-Disability Claim Filing Service to the U.S. Government's Social Security Administration (SSA).
This electronic process has reduced the time needed to process a Social Security Disability Claim from 457 days to 6 hours. This new system is up and running and fully functional. At the moment only 5% of SSA Disability Claims are being processed through this new system, but it is anticipated that over time a majority of all SSA Disabilty Claims from South East Michigan will be processed electronically.
"Using health information technology will improve our disability programs and provide better service to the public," said Michael J. Astrue, Commissioner of Social Security. "We've seen a significant increase in disability applications. To process them, the agency sends more than 15 million requests annually for medical records to healthcare providers. 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."
The success of this system is largely dependent upon the claimants medical records being available in EHR technology. The process involves SSA being able to electronically request patient medical records from doctors and hospitals and then utilizing the information collected electronically to process the disability claims. The Oakwood Healthcare System is electronically connected to the platform, and SSA is able to send query requests to the Oakwood Healthcare System. As a result of this connection, patients have a strong incentive to utilize Oakwood. because they won't have to wait the typical year and a half to have their application adjudicated by SSA.
Benefits to patients are reduced time to have their disability claims processed. Health Care systems that are connected not only will have a competitive advantage in attracting these patients, but the improved time in processing these claims means that the health care systems will have better cash flow due to quick processing of the claims and payment for the services they provide. SSA will need to expend less resources to process each claim thus reducing their costs.
As the NwHIN (Nationwide Health Information Network) is deployed, and the ability to communicate electroinc medical information becomes more prevalent, it is likely that more and more bureaucratic processes such as claims processing and payment processing will be streamlined, reducing the cost of adjudicating claims, and reducing costs associated with filing these claims. This should result in savings for both the health care providers and the health care payers.