Regenstrief Institute to help improve disability determination through health information technology

Indianapolis 29 March 2010The Regenstrief Institute has been awarded a Recovery Act contract to help the United States Social Security Administration (SSA) and Indiana health care providers shorten and improve the process of making disability case determinations through automation. Work is scheduled to begin March 31. The Regenstrief Institute, an international expert in heath information technology, created and operates the Indiana Network for Patient Care (INPC), a secure statewide health information exchange that providers use to help improve the quality, safety and efficiency of care that their patients receive. Improving the disability determination process complements other functions of the INPC, including surveillance for influenza outbreaks and access to a patient's diverse medical records when providing emergency care.


The process of acquiring medical information for an SSA disability claim involves numerous requests to multiple health care providers treating the individual seeking disability benefits. This process can take weeks or even months following an application for benefits. Physician offices, hospitals and other health care providers must gather the individual's recent medical information and submit it via fax or U.S. mail.

"We will leverage the capability of the INPC to quickly and efficiently collect the information requested electronically by SSA, with the specific authorization of the person applying for disability benefits, and securely transfer it to the government so the disability decision process can be completed more rapidly. This will make that process more efficient - both because it will be faster and also because the medical data compiled will be more complete. It also will take the time and expense of going to many different providers, assembling the necessary records and filling out forms off the shoulders of patients and decrease the need for providers to search for and send records manually", stated Brian Dixon, MPA, project manager for Regenstrief's SSA contract.

To effectively make decisions regarding applications for disability, the SSA needs the same kind of medical information that physicians utilize when making diagnoses, treatment, and referral decisions. Health care providers in Indiana rely on the INPC to securely and privately share clinical data which is utilized daily to support health care services throughout Indiana.

"Facilitating the processing of patients' disability claims is another example of how health care providers throughout Indiana have worked together with the Regenstrief Institute and Indiana Health Information Exchange to ensure that their patients' health care information is used to enhance their care", stated J. Marc Overhage, M.D., Ph.D., director of medical informatics at the Regenstrief Institute, Regenstrief Professor of Medicine at the Indiana University School of Medicine, and president and C.E.O. of the Indiana Health Information Exchange.

Disability benefits determination is a large-scale process. The SSA expects to receive more than 3,3 million disability benefits applications in fiscal year 2010, a 27 percent increase over the 2008 fiscal year. Annually, more than 15 million requests for medical records are sent to health care providers.

The Indiana Network for Patient Care, one of the highest volume health information exchanges in the United States, is also expanding beyond central Indiana to serve patients from southwestern Indiana and southeastern Illinois.

Good Samaritan Hospital in Vincennes, Indiana, joins 40 other medical facilities serving more than 6 million patients as a member of the INPC, a network which makes patient data from one institution securely available at any other INPC participant in real time. This enables physicians to have the information they need - when and where they need it - to make decisions critical to patient care.

Created and operated by the Regenstrief Institute, an international expert in electronic medical record and health information exchange development and operations, the INPC daily handles approximately 2,5 million secure transactions of clinically relevant data such as laboratory test results, medication and treatment histories, and other clinically important information in a standardized, electronic format. This information is critical to diagnoses, treatment and referral decisions.

Good Samaritan, a 232-bed community health care facility with 1600 employees, serves a broard range of patients primarily from southwestern Indiana and southeastern Illinois. "At Good Samaritan Hospital we understand the importance of having accurate, immediate patient data. This is why we think it's necessary to be a part of the Indiana Network of Patient Care", stated Gerald Waldroup, interim president and CEO of Good Samaritan Hospital. "This system takes the burden off the patients, while enabling our physicians to see the most up-to-date and relevant patient information that can have a big impact at the point of care."

Good Samaritan is initially making data from the INPC available in its emergency department where physicians and other health care providers will now have secure and confidential access to information on patients at the point of care. The hospital will also be able to participate in the State's public health reporting systems and other sophisticated systems designed to improve patient care.

The INPC also supports services including delivering test results and reports to physicians through the DOCS4DOCS Service and also provides a chronic disease and preventive health service through the Quality Health First Programme, offered by the Indiana Health Information Exchange. IHIE, a Regenstrief partner, is the United States' largest health information exchange.

"Our secure and robust clinical information has the flexibility to provide the kinds of services needed for a particular community", stated J. Marc Overhage, M.D., Ph.D., director of medical informatics at the Regenstrief Institute, president and CEO of IHIE and Regenstrief Professor of Medicine at Indiana University School of Medicine. "INPC is an easy-to-use, clinical information network that helps physicians give their patients the best care possible while saving health care dollars."

Good Samaritan Hospital has been a health care expert in southwestern Indiana and southeastern Illinois for over 100 years. A 232-bed community health care facility with 1600 employees, Good Samaritan Hospital is committed to delivering exceptional care offering a broad range of medical services as well as some of the most progressive technology available today.

Indiana Health Information Exchange Inc. (IHIE) is a non-profit corporation formed by the Regenstrief Institute, private hospitals, local and state health departments, BioCrossroads, the state's life sciences initiative, and other prominent organisations in Indiana. IHIE is the United States' largest and most respected health information exchange organisation and one of the nation's only health information exchange organisations providing chronic disease and preventive health services. It is dedicated to supporting communities by providing services that enable the right medical information to get to the right provider at the right time to enhance patient care.

The Regenstrief Institute Inc., an internationally recognized informatics and health care research organisation, is dedicated to the improvement of health through research that enhances the quality and cost-effectiveness of health care. Established in Indianapolis by philanthropist Sam Regenstrief in 1969 on the campus of the Indiana University School of Medicine, the Institute is supported by the Regenstrief Foundation and closely affiliated with the Indiana University School of Medicine and the Health and Hospital Corporation of Marion County, Indiana. Regenstrief Institute research scientists form a highly respected cadre of health services researchers linked to one of the largest and most comprehensive medical informatics laboratories in the world.

The Regenstrief Institute has been an international expert in the development, implementation and evaluation of health information technology and health information standards for over three decades. Regenstrief investigators are specialists in the development of clinical data standards and health care system interoperability. The institute is located on the campus of Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis. Indianapolis is the most health care wired metropolitan area in the country.

Source: Indiana University School of Medicine

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