The Social Security Administration has issued a request for proposals to use information technology to obtain electronic health records data for individuals seeking disability benefits.
Social Security annually sends more than 15 million requests for medical records to providers. Getting that data through manual processes can take weeks or months. The agency during the past year tested with Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston and the MedVirginia health information exchange to gather data electronically. The results were "significantly reduced processing times," according to the agency.
Now, Social Security has announced the availability of $24 million to expand its Medical Evidence Gathering and Analysis through Health Information Technology program. The funds are part of $40 million provided under the federal stimulus package to Social Security for health I.T. 
Rolling out the MEGAHIT program comes as the recession has significantly increased the number of disability applications being submitted to Social Security. The agency expects to receive more than 3.3 million applications in fiscal 2010, a 27% increase over FY 2008.
Under the request for proposals, the agency is looking for provider organizations, provider networks and health information exchanges to participate in the program. "Providers are expected to have access to electronic health records and must use the Nationwide Health Information Network to transport data," according to the agency.
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