ANN ARBOR — The South East Michigan Health Information Exchange has been validated for conformance and interoperability testing by the Office of the National Coordinator and is now live on the Nationwide Health Information Network Exchange.

SEMHIE joins a 20-member group of federal agencies and non-federal partners authorized to operate on NwHIN1.

SEMHIE developed its health information exchange under a $2,988,000 contract with the federal Social Security Administration. This is the largest of the 12 remaining national SSA e-Disability Claims contracts and is funded under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, better known as the federal stimulus.

This contract provides for the secure, authorized exchange of summary patient information for disability determination between SEMHIE health systems’ and providers’ electronic medical record systems and the SSA. Once received, decisions on these claims can then be made by SSA, providing disabled citizens with an accelerated approval process that will improve access to healthcare services, accelerate the claims approval process and bring increased federal dollars to the Detroit area.

When complete, SSA expects to reduce the national average wait for eligibility determination from 457 days to 1-2 weeks and the delivery of medical information from providers to the SSA to 5 hours.

Funds from this contract award are enabling two major hospital systems that are collaborative partner members of SEMHIE, Henry Ford Health System and Oakwood Healthcare System, to securely exchange authorized summary patient records for disability determination with the SSA in standard CCD (Continuity of Care Document) format, linking their systems to the NwHIN, and meeting meaningful use criteria.

At the conclusion of this SSA contract, it is anticipated that other major hospital systems and providers in the Detroit area and across Michigan will use the SEMHIE’s infrastructure and services for disability claims processing. SEMHIE plans to use this technology and experience to create additional services for its members as it rolls out a comprehensive, full-functioning HIE in Southeast Michigan.

Michael J. Astrue, Commissioner of Social Security, announced in June 2010 that 15 health care providers and health information exchange networks received $17.4 million in contract awards to provide electronic medical records to the agency under the program.

“Using health information technology will improve our disability programs and provide better service to the public,” Astrue said. “We’ve seen a significant increase in disability applications. To process them, the agency sends more than 15 million requests annually for medical records to healthcare providers. This largely paper-bound workload is generally the most time-consuming part of the disability decision process. The use of health IT will dramatically improve the speed, accuracy, and efficiency of this process, reducing the cost of making a disability decision for both the medical community and the American taxpayer.”

Under future milestones, SEMHIE will complete the work now in advanced stages to integrate the SEMHIE NwHIN gateway service to the Web-services systems at Oakwood Healthcare System and Henry Ford Health System for exchange with the SSA. This contract is scheduled to be complete by the end of December.

SEMHIE’s strategic partners in the SSA project are CNSI, CSC, Object Management Group, University Bank of Ann Arbor, Oakwood Health System and Henry Ford Health System. CSC and CNSI are members of two of the four consortia that built the NwHIN for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Reliance Software Systems Inc. of Ann Arbor, Clinical Architecture and Joint Venture Hospital Labs are also providing technical products and services to the project for CCD creation and semantic interoperability.

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