Health Information Exchange Services in Support of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Medical Response: Assessment of Opportunity in California and the Gulf Coast [open pdf - 1MB]
"Over the last decade, a number of significant disasters have struck the United States, including hurricanes, tornadoes, pandemic flu, and terrorist attacks. Each of these events has resulted in evacuations and/or the treatment of patients outside of where they traditionally seek medical treatment. Consequently, care is often provided with incomplete information, which may impact the quality of care or cause harm to patients. As the nation has moved towards the digitization of patient health information, many initiatives have focused on how electronic patient data can be used during a disaster or emergency to improve care. Additionally, many have considered how health information exchange (HIE) can support healthcare professionals not only during disasters, but also during day-to-day emergencies. While significant progress has been made since one of the U.S.'s worst disasters, Hurricane Katrina, the country as a whole was recently given a grade of 'C-' for disaster preparedness and a 'D-' for access to emergency care, suggesting that additional work is needed. The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC), the federal agency that oversees the nationwide effort to transition to and meaningfully use health information technology (HIT), has sought to capitalize on the emerging HIT infrastructure. […] Ai focused its efforts on two geographic areas that are vulnerable to a high number of natural disasters: California and the Gulf Coast (Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas). Officials in both of these areas have spent considerable time developing disaster preparedness and response plans. Additionally, hospitals and emergency medical services (EMS) providers in both California and Louisiana are developing use cases and pilots for sharing of EMS data with hospitals."