Featured July 25, 2012 | crainsdetroit.com | Jay Greene, Crain’s Detroit Business
The Southeast Michigan Health Information Exchange has completed a $3 million contract with the Social Security Administration to develop an electronic disability claim filing service.
Federal stimulus funding has allowed SEMHIE, one of six regional health information exchanges in Michigan that are part of the Michigan Health Information Network Shared Services, to construct the technology for the exchange, said Robert Jackson, M.D., the exchange’s chairman.
“This is very exciting for SEMHIE to have achieved,” Jackson said in a statement. “We have the foundation to offer more business services of benefit to our community.”
A health information exchange is designed to allow hospitals, doctors, insurance companies, pharmacies and other providers to share secure patient information to reduce costs, eliminate duplicative tests and improve quality.
SEMHIE is a consortium that also includes Oakwood Healthcare, St. John Providence Health System, Henry Ford Health System, Beaumont Health System, Trinity Health, Detroit Medical Center and several health insurers, provider groups and employers.
Under the Social Security contract, SEMHIE has taken the first steps to automate the process of filing disability insurance claims in metropolitan Detroit. For those claims processed, filing time has been cut to six hours from an average of 457 days, according to SEMHIE.
It works like this: Once someone files a claim with Social Security, SEMHIE’s computer system automatically creates a medical record file and pulls health records from participating providers.
The applicant’s medical documents are then sent to Social Security for a decision through the secure Nationwide Health Information Network.
“Using health information technology will improve our disability programs and provide better service to the public,” Michael Astrue, commissioner of Social Security, said in a statement.
Over the past several years, Astrue said Social Security has experienced a significant increase in claims. Each year, Social Security sends 15 million medical information requests to providers.
“The use of health IT will dramatically improve the speed, accuracy, and efficiency of this process, reducing the cost of making a disability decision for both the medical community and the American taxpayer,” Astrue said.
The federal funding allowed Oakwood to link its electronic medical record system to SEMHIE and Social Security through the Nationwide Health Information Network.
When additional funding is found, SEMHIE will expand the system to other health systems and providers in Detroit.
“Oakwood is excited about being one of the leading health systems to initiate the health information exchange between the health care providers and Social Security Administration,” Paula Fusco Smith, Oakwood’s chief information officer and vice chairman of SEMHIE, said in a statement.