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SSA Testing Microsoft HealthVault

The Social Security Administration (SSA) has entered into an agreement to test the use of the Microsoft HealthVault software for SSA's disability determination process.

SSA has been trying several ways to electronically collect the health records of people applying for disability income. SSA currently requests about 15 million to 20 million medical records a year in a process that is labor- and paper-intensive.

HealthVault is a free online personal health record service in which patients are encouraged to collect and store their health information in a single location.

The SSA said Aug. 27 that it and Microsoft are developing a technical prototype connecting the two organizations that will be available later this year. SSA also will collaborate with Microsoft to study current personal health record standards, gaps in those standards, and options for filling those gaps.

"The use of personal health records holds great promise for ensuring that the medical information we collect from someone applying for disability benefits is accurate and complete," SSA Commissioner Michael Astrue said in a news release.

"Combined with other advancements in health information technology, our use of HealthVault should result in faster decisions for disability applicants," he said.

SSA has been using the Health and Human Service Department's Nationwide Health Information Network (NHIN) to link with providers for the purpose of getting the disability records.

The agency recently issued a Request for Information asking vendors to propose how to link more providers' records through the NHIN. SSA also is working with MedVirginia to test sharing of digital patient records in that state.

About the Author

Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer for 1105 Media's Washington Technology.

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