Health IT proves critical in natural disasters

Larry McClain | Government Health IT | October 3, 2011

Some of the most devastating tornadoes and floods in U.S. history have occurred in just the last two years. IT professionals who survived the storms say their technology held up well. They felt lucky to have paperless systems in place.

They recounted their experiences during a panel discussion at the HIMSS Summit of the Southeast Sept. 29 in Nashville, Tenn.

“It’s vital for us to ‘imagine the unimaginable’ and get the necessary training beforehand,” said Susan Cooper, former commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Health. “For example, if we had another earthquake like the one in New Madrid, Mo. in 1811, it would completely overwhelm the healthcare system in the Southeast. That’s why I urge healthcare IT people to go to the FEMA website and take the National Incident Management System (NIMS) training."