Cerner has entered an agreement with the U.S. Social Security Administration to help simplify its processing of patient disability benefits claims through the retrieval of medical information from health systems' electronic health records.
Together, the organizations will attempt to shorten the transfer time of relevant, patient-directed medical records being sent from health systems to the Social Security Administration, potentially cutting down the process from weeks or months to seconds or minutes, Cerner announced on Tuesday.
Currently, around 8 million people receive disabled-worker benefits from Social Security, and each year the administration asks healthcare providers for more than 15 million medical records, usually in the form of a fax or mailed images, in order to make decisions on disability claims.
The nature of this process is cumbersome, and using physical copies of information can cause significant delays in determining disability insurance eligibility, said Sam Lambson, vice president of interoperability at Cerner.
Automating data and creating a centralized network will work to ease administrative processing burdens, reduce costs and remove the need for paper records, he said, allowing for faster disability decisions and quicker access to coverage.
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To do this, Cerner will provide the Social Security Administration with an immediate electronic query system that will request virtual medical records from health systems that are then automatically processed and sent to administrators who review and authorize claims, Lambson said.
While still following security and document exchange protocols, the administration won't have to make calls, send emails or go through other channels for this information, he said.
Switching the system to a virtual format is also meant to improve patient satisfaction, automate Social Security Administration payments in a secure way and lower uncompensated care with claimants obtaining Medicare and Medicaid benefits.
Before working with the administration, Cerner will work with three of its clients over the course of several months to pilot its automated solution, eventually expanding the program to other clients that want to participate.
During this pilot, Cerner will create a document template for the Social Security Administration that filters the data and pinpoints information needed to directly support claims, Lambson said.
Cerner is also working to modernize the electronic health record systems of the Department of Veterans Affairs, the Department of Defense and the U.S. Coast Guard.