Social Security Awards Health IT Contracts

Up to $2.8 billion will go to four prime contractors selected to support the agency's efforts to use electronic health records to process disability applications.

InformationWeek Staff, Contributor

October 5, 2010

2 Min Read

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The Social Security Administration (SSA) has selected four prime contractors under the Information Technology Support Services Contract (ITSSC) that will be used, in part, to acquire health information technology that works with electronic health record (EHR) systems to process applications for disability benefits.

The ITSSC includes a one-year base period plus six additional one-year options with an aggregate ceiling valued at $2.8 billion.

The four prime contractors under ITSSC are Accenture, Computer Sciences Corp., Northrop Grumman, and Lockheed Martin.

While those companies could bid on various "tasks" that SSA might order, the agency has provided direction to each prime contractor about the type of work they'd most likely be expected to participate in, said Accenture managing director Steve Shane in an interview with InformationWeek.

"All four companies are prime contractors, but SSA has directed different paths" for each, he said.

For instance, Accenture's focus is on "emerging technologies," including projects involving analytics, mobile, and web portals, Shane said. Accenture will also focus on integrating data from EHRs into SSA systems to assist in disability and other entitlement program determinations, he said.

The scope of ITSSC underscores SSA's increasing need for health IT, as the data contained in EHRs will enable disability claims and other entitlement program determinations to be done more quickly, efficiently, and accurately, he said.

"Generally, SSA is trying to continue improving its services delivery and cost efficiencies," he said. This includes efforts to provide the public with "safe" and secure access to "important information," he said.

The contract calls for Accenture to implement emerging technology applications designed to improve SSA's service delivery capabilities to current beneficiaries and future retirees.

Task orders issued under the contract may request services such as evaluating ways to integrate data from health records more seamlessly, expanding web and social media to enhance user accessibility, and applying predictive models and analytics capabilities to SSA's business. Currently, SSA along with the State Disability Determination Services are encouraging healthcare stakeholders to submit patient records electronically under an initiative called the Electronic Records Express, which encourages the use of electronic options rather than faxing or mailing health information related to disability claims.

According to SSA, electronic processes can make it quicker and easier for medical and other claimant records to be transferred securely, eliminating mail time and automating handling so that disability applicants can receive a decision sooner.

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