Kaiser, SSA partner on HIE to speed claims

By Bernie Monegain
01:33 PM

Kaiser Permanente and the Social Security Administration on Monday announced a pilot program to exchange electronic health record information using the Nationwide Health Information Network (NwHIN).

Kaiser will join the 13 other partners that exchange data across the NwHIN Exchange with the Social Security Administration.

The exchange between Kaiser and the SSA significantly improves convenience for patients filing disability claims by expediting the receipt of benefits, officials said – noting that sharing medical information electronically shortens the current laborious manual process of filing and collecting medical records.

In the past, a patient would have to go to SSA to fill out paperwork, which would then be followed by a faxed request from SSA to Kaiser Permanente to verify claim information. Kaiser’s regional health information management department would then receive the request, find the information and send it back to SSA. The new exchange automates that process and eliminates unnecessary back and forth and manual processing.

"Kaiser Permanente has pioneered the digital exchange of health information with other institutions for several years, and this latest work with the SSA represents another major milestone in our journey," said John E. Mattison, MD, chief medical information officer and assistant medical director for the Southern California Permanente Medical Group. "We're dedicated to improving care coordination through safe and secure information exchange, and the SSA has been an innovative partner in this work."

The program puts the “highest priority on patient privacy and data security,” officials said, and no exchange of information will occur without the explicit permission of the individual patient. Explicit policies and technologies to safeguard patient information are part of the NwHIN. Patient information will not be shared without first obtaining their consent.

"Kaiser Permanente is dedicated to supporting safe and secure health information exchange for members, and our work with the Social Security Administration will enable our patients to obtain quicker decisions on their disability benefits," said Lisa Caplan, Kaiser Permanente senior vice president and business information officer, Care Delivery. "Our goal is to ultimately make access to health information easy, convenient and secure for patients."

The pilot begins in the coming month and will include several Kaiser Permanente facilities in Southern California, specifically in the San Diego area, and covering a significant patient population.

"I am confident that people will look back at today's announcement as the most significant improvement in our disability determination process since the program began in 1956,” said Michael J. Astrue, commissioner of Social Security. In today's world it makes no sense for us to chase down paper records on an individual basis.”

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