EHRs speed up disability claims process for Social Security Administration

A software system that uses electronic health records in processing Social Security Administration disability claims could reduce the time to determine eligibility from months to days, the Dayton Daily News reports.

Researchers at the Wright State Research Institute in Dayton, Ohio, developed the system, HealthLink, as part of a contract awarded to the school by the Social Security Administration in 2010. The contract stemmed from $17.4 million worth of awards geared toward providing EHRs to SSA through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, according to the Dayton Daily News.

A pilot group of 500 doctors in both Ohio and Oregon had been testing the system since December. During that span, an average of one Social Security determination request per doctor was processed per month, according to the newspaper. By comparison, the national average wait time was 345 days last year and remains steady at more than 100 days, according to SSA.

"We have been able to provide a solution here from an electronic health information exchange perspective that can get a disability claims determination resolution in as little as 48 hours," Aaron Miller, health information technology program manager for the Wright State Research Institute, told the Daily News.

In June, SSA and Kaiser Permanente announced the launch of a similar pilot program to exchange records with one another. That program was geared toward speeding up the benefit claims process, as well.

SSA isn't the only government entity to suffer from a slow claims benefits process. As of the summer, the number of backlogged benefits claims for the Department of Veterans Affairs stood at more than 913,000, with about 66 percent taking more than 125 days to process. The VA spent $491 million on an electronic Veterans Benefits Management System, but it has been slow to install the system in its offices nationwide.

For more information:
- read the Dayton Daily News article