In 2009, NHIN will come online and exchange “live” data among organizations that are ready, willing, and able to exchange health information using NHIN specifications and standards. The Social Security Administration is going to be the first government agency to use the Nationwide Health Information Network (NHIN) starting February 2009.
SSA will receive medical records for some disability applicants electronically through the NHIN gateway. Social Security uses individual medical records when making a decision for more than 2.6 million people who apply for disability each year. To make these decisions, SSA relies on doctors, hospitals, and others in the healthcare field to provide the medical records. The NHIN will help to make sure that the records are received in minutes instead of months so that determinations can be made in a more efficient manner resulting in cost savings.
Social Security is working with MedVirginia, a health information exchange organization and a member of the NHIN cooperative to enable the first real-world use of the system to begin electronically processing social security disability determinations.
According to Michael J. Astrue, Commissioner of Social Security, “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.”