Mercy Health integrates with the SSA, speeding processing of disability claims

Cincinnati, OH (March 12, 2015) -- Patients in Ohio and Kentucky served by Mercy Health can now get their Social Security disability cases reviewed faster thanks to a new program that brings the power of electronic medical records to the disability determination process.

Mercy Health, a Catholic Health Ministry serving Ohio and Kentucky, is among the first large health systems to implement the revolutionary Health IT program of the Social Security Administration.

“This speeds the process for patients who desperately need income to pay for basic needs,” said Stephen Beck, MD, chief medical informatics officer at Mercy Health. “Moving from paper to electronic processes also improves employee productivity, eliminating the need to fax, scan and mail paper records.”

When a person applies for disability benefits, Social Security must obtain that person’s complete health record to make an accurate eligibility determination. It can take weeks for healthcare organizations to provide paper records for a patient's case. With electronic records transmission, the process takes just minutes, helping patients can get the help they need faster.

Within 10 days of going live with the new system, Social Security had successfully received documents from 512 Mercy Health patients throughout Ohio and Kentucky.

Over 14 million Americans receive some form of Social Security disability or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) disability benefits from Social Security. The Agency processes approximately three million Social Security and SSI disability claims annually, which requires the agency to submit more than 15 million requests to healthcare providers for medical records. Traditionally, this has been largely a paper-based process and SSA initiated Health IT in 2010 in an effort to process claims faster.

Partnering with Social Security is helping Mercy Health reduce the amount of uncompensated care it provides patients. Automating the release of information is speeding up the disability determination process for patients, which may result in quicker access to public health benefits.

By streamlining the request process, Mercy Health can re-direct resources away from the labor and time-intensive process of responding to requests for information and toward improving patient care. In addition, Mercy Health is saving on printing, paper and postage expenses as well as health information management labor costs.

Mercy Health connected its CarePATH electronic health system to the HealtheWay data exchange network – an information “super highway” that networks health care providers and governmental agencies across the country.

“Our investment in CarePATH continues to pay dividends in areas such as this,” Dr. Beck said. “We’re extremely fortunate to have a dedicated team at CarePATH that devotes countless hours to improving this state-of-the-art electronic health system. They are truly focused on the Mission of our organization as they go about their important work.”