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Kaiser, Social Security Administration Launch HIE Pilot

June 25, 2012
by Gabriel Perna
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Not-for-profit nationwide healthcare provider Kaiser Permanente is teaming with Social Security Administration (SSA) to launch a pilot health information exchange (HIE) program for patients filing disability claim through the Nationwide Health Information Network (NwHIN). The new exchange relationship between Kaiser Permanente and the SSA will aim to improve convenience for patients filing disability claims by expediting the receipt of benefits.

The theory behind the partnership is that sharing medical information electronically shortens the current laborious manual process of filing and collecting medical records. Currently, patients have to go to SSA to fill out paperwork, which is followed by a faxed request from SSA to Kaiser Permanente to verify claim information. The healthcare organization's regional health information management department then receives the request, finds the information and sends it back to SSA. An HIE completely automates that process and eliminates unnecessary back and forth and manual processing.

"Kaiser Permanente has pioneered the digital exchange of health information with other institutions for several years, and this latest work with the SSA represents another major milestone in our journey," John E. Mattison, M.D., chief medical information officer and assistant medical director for the Southern California Permanente Medical Group, said in a statement. "We're dedicated to improving care coordination through safe and secure information exchange, and the SSA has been an innovative partner in this work."

The program aims to have high patient privacy and data security priority, and Kaiser says no exchange of information will occur without the explicit permission of the individual patient. Explicit policies and technologies to safeguard patient information are part of the NwHIN. Patient information will not be shared without first obtaining their consent.

"Kaiser Permanente is dedicated to supporting safe and secure health information exchange for members, and our work with the Social Security Administration will enable our patients to obtain quicker decisions on their disability benefits," Lisa Caplan, Kaiser Permanente’s senior vice president and business information officer of Care Delivery, said in a statement. "Our goal is to ultimately make access to health information easy, convenient and secure for patients."

The pilot begins in the coming month and will include several Kaiser Permanente facilities in Southern California, specifically in the San Diego area, and covering a significant patient population. With it, Kaiser Permanente will join the 13 current partners that exchange data across the NwHIN with the SSA.

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