• Safety & Recalls
  • Regulatory Updates
  • Drug Coverage
  • COPD
  • Cardiovascular
  • Obstetrics-Gynecology & Women's Health
  • Ophthalmology
  • Clinical Pharmacology
  • Pediatrics
  • Urology
  • Pharmacy
  • Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis
  • Diabetes and Endocrinology
  • Allergy, Immunology, and ENT
  • Musculoskeletal/Rheumatology
  • Respiratory
  • Psychiatry and Behavioral Health
  • Dermatology
  • Oncology

Hurricane Katrina prompts development of national electronic health records system

Article

While Hurricane Katrina has disrupted healthcare for millions of people, one beneficial outcome may be more public and private efforts to develop a national electronic health records (EHR) system.

While Hurricane Katrina has disrupted healthcare for millions of people, one beneficial outcome may be more public and private efforts to develop a national electronic health records (EHR) system.

Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Mike Leavitt stressed the value of a national e-health system that could prevent people from losing their medical records in the case of a pandemic or natural disaster. Several days after the hurricane hit, Leavitt announced the 16 members of a new federal advisory committee formed to lead the development of an interoperable national EHR system. The panel includes CMS administrator Mark McClellan, MD, PhD, plus executives from health plans, insurers, and IT companies.

"If we had a national EHR system, the impact on the healthcare system would be lessened," said Christopher Valerian, DO, MMM (Master of Medical Management), executive medical director, quality and clinical innovations, Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of NJ. Valerian experienced the devastation firsthand when deployed to New Orleans on a 10-day mission as medical manager for New Jersey Task Force One (NJ-TF1), an urban search and rescue team. "Most, if not all, paper records are probably going to be at least partially affected by the floodwaters. This loss will cost a lot in the form of repetitive testing, office visits, etc," he said.

"The DPP for EHRs requires that backups be made frequently and separated from the institution so that the disaster that befalls the facility doesn't also befall the storage facility," Mack says. "Healthcare organizations must balance the cost-benefit of potential back-up solutions with effective risk management analysis and insurance coverage specific to the components within their DPP."

In New Orleans, Kindred Hospital has been transformed into a forward command center by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other government agencies.

"Kindred stores e-medical records locally, but also duplicates them on a central server and back-up systems off site," said Rick Chapman, executive vice president and chief administrative and information officer for Kindred Healthcare.

Health plans in particular should view Hurricane Katrina as a wake-up call to begin assisting their providers toward the migration of an EHR, said Jay Anders, MD, chief medical officer at InteGreat, an EHR provider to group practice physicians. "This also should be a call to the federal government to start funding grants to set up community health records to allow central secure storage of patient data," Dr Anders said.

Related Videos
Related Content
© 2024 MJH Life Sciences

All rights reserved.