Improved Routine Access To Health Data Ensures Disaster Preparedness

Molly Bernhart Walker | FierceGovernmentIT | October 8, 2012

State health information exchanges can best prepare for emergencies by ensuring that health information is readily accessible during routine care, concludes a report (.pdf) from the Southeast Regional HIT-HIE Collaboration published in July. But the report finds day-to-day health information sharing is a challenge, as individual state's efforts and HIE implementation timelines vary considerably.

The consortium behind the report--formed by the Health and Human Services Departments' office of the national coordinator for health information technology in November 2010--was tasked with developing a strategic plan for sharing health data among Southeast and Gulf States in the event of a natural disaster.

Some of the primary challenges to health information exchange during a disaster are not unique to emergency situations, say report authors. For example, the report cites the inability to communicate, share and transmit health information; the credentialing of healthcare providers; and the destruction of medical records as obstacles to cooperation across jurisdictions...