HIEs Valuable During Times of Natural Disasters

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Healthcare demands rise dramatically when threatened with a natural disaster such as a hurricane or tornado, or wild fires. Significantly impacted are patient access to care, access to health data, and clinician workflows. Determining the best course of medical action requires secure access to patient records. For both the provider and the patient, the health information exchange (HIE) becomes the reliable source for patient information.

Two recent hurricanes clearly demonstrated the HIE value. With Hurricane Florence in September, the eHealth Exchange focused on connecting providers. Effort was also invested in connecting HIEs to one another. With Hurricane Michael in October, the Strategic Health Information Exchange Collaborative worked effectively to connect HIEs throughout the southeastern United States to make sure providers had access to patient records.

In the past, healthcare workers had to rely on what information they could get from physically and emotionally stressed family members and patients. With an HIE essentially acting as a backup system for electronic healthcare records, care coordination from one healthcare provider to the next is seamless. Accessing patient information from outside the health center through a web-based portal helps providers avoid medical errors, eliminate unnecessary procedures, and reduce confusion.

In Connecticut, the Connecticut State Medical Society has partnered with KAMMCO to deliver the only physician-led HIE in the state. Utilizing CTHealthLink during a natural disaster can help providers improve healthcare quality, coordination and efficiency through the secure and reliable exchange of health information at the point of care. For more information about CTHealthLink, call Matthew Katz at 203.865.0587, or visit www.cthealthlink.com.

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