New Network will give SSA Instantaneous Access to Medical Records

The Social Security Administration announced that it will be the first government agency to utilize the Nationwide Health Information Network (NHIN). Beginning in early 2009, SSA will receive medical records for some disability applicants electronically through the NHIN gateway.

Through NHIN, SSA will have instantaneous access to medical records. This will significantly shorten the time it takes to make a disability decision and make the process more efficient, SSA says. The agency uses individual medical records when making a decision for more than 2.6 million people who apply for disability each year. To make those decisions, SSA relies on doctors, hospitals, and others in the health care field to provide medical records in a timely fashion. NHIN will help ensure records are received timely by making it easier and less labor-intensive for medical professionals to submit records, SSA says.

SSA is working with MedVirginia, the North Carolina Healthcare Information and Communications Alliance, and Kaiser Permanente to implement the network. In early 2009, the first real-world use of the system will begin between SSA and MedVirginia. NHIN is an initiative of the Department of Health and Human Services and is supported by multiple government agencies and private sector entities.

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