Jul 28, 2012

Over The Top Press Release

     See if you can make any sense of the press release issued by the South East Michigan Health Information Exchange touting its work on a contract with Social Security to create a system that "automatically pulls health records and creates a comprehensive set of medical information that populates a Continuity of Care Document (CCD)."  According to the press release, the contractor has succeeded in "accelerating the [Social Security disability] process from an average of 457 days by paper to 6 hours electronically." In case you don't know, this claim is preposterous in many ways. There is no way that every health care provider in the area is part of this exchange. There is no way that the exchange can guarantee that every person is accurately identified in all their medical records. There is no way that the exchange can make reasonable determinations as to what records to obtain. A single hospitalization that lasts a few days can generate a record running into hundreds of pages. How much of that does Social Security need or want? How can any software make that determination? Records created before a provider switched to electronic records -- which may have been last year -- are unlikely to be searchable electronically. Not all providers in any area of the country have made the switch to electronic records. There is no way under current circumstances that disparate electronic records software can work together seamlessly. Finally, 457 days would have to be the entire time from the date a claimant files a claim to the date he or she receives a decision from an Administrative Law Judge. Reducing that to six hours? Give me a break.


Anonymous said...

Charles, the medical providers and the claimant's representatives are supposed to submit all records for the relevant timeframe. You can leave it up to us at SSA to determine which records are important.

While the entire process cannot be condensed to only six hours, a computer system that can gather records quicker will make a significant difference in processing time, since the vast majority of the delay from filing date to disposition date is waiting around for files to be completed with all necessary medical records.

Anonymous said...

The press release is misleading in that the entire process is not reduced to 6 hours. However, obtaining evidence is the most time consuming aspect of the disability claims process. Obtaining records electronically greatly reduces this time. Some records have been received in a matter of seconds and claims have been approved in less than 1 day. This is an example of the agency using technology to work smarter and better serve the disabled public.