Social Security to join VA, DoD interoperability effort

The Social Security Administration will start sharing electronic health information with the Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs early next year to help expedite claims processing for veterans who apply for Social Security benefits, a federal official says. The program will begin in February, following a January interoperability test between the DoD, VA and Kaiser Permanente, according to Jim Borland, special advisor for health IT at the Social Security Administration.

"VA has been exchanging information with Social Security for years, but it has been digital paper, like PDFs," Borland said last Friday at a meeting of an advisory panel on future technology systems and health IT strategy at SSA, reports Government Health IT. This new program will involve actual structured, computable data, and conform to Nationwide Health Information Network specifications, Borland said. "Moving from paper to structured data over the NHIN, Social Security can use decision support systems to make disability determinations and solve business problems," he added.

According to Borland, the agency wants to increase the number of providers with which it shares EMRs when it awards up to $24 million in contracts in January. To this end, SSA is planning a demonstration of exchanging information over the NHIN via the Microsoft HealthVault personal health information platform.

To learn more about Social Security's role in the NHIN:
- read this Government Health IT story