Friday, March 25, 2011

This Might Be Another Reason To Get on With A Sensible EHR Program - National / Natural Disasters.

The following appeared yesterday.

Digital medical records provide critical backup

By Tyler Thia, ZDNet Asia on March 24, 2011

The wide-scale destruction caused by the recent north Japan earthquake and tsunami has highlighted the importance of electronic health records (EHR), with industry watchers urging for countries to digitize healthcare data.

According to IDC's Health Insights research manager Janet Chiew, the earthquake revealed compelling benefits that EHR can bring to citizens in situations when large scale medical and rescue operations are required.

"Imagine the enhanced effectiveness and savings in resources if rescue parties and medical teams are aware of the profile of people in danger, put on standby the necessary equipment and drugs for those chronically-ill, and quickly identify those with special medical conditions upon rescue. This can be possible if the information is made available via a national EHR (NEHR) [system]," Chiew explained in an e-mail.

With hospitals and clinics destroyed, records of the sick and elderly may be ruined, and this can lead to greater medical and logistical complications for those affected by the disaster. According to an EHR online forum, author Katherine Rourke shared that while Japan has a health information exchange (HIE) strategy, it is still immature.

"EMR (electronic medical record) coverage is patchy, though like here in the United States, is on the upswing. Research interest is high, in fact, medical informatics specialists there have developed their own clinical data exchange format, the Medical Markup Language. However, health data digitization and sharing is still in its early stages, or so it seems from the reading I've done," Rourke said. She also suggested that a robust HIE system would serve as a good backup in case of widespread infrastructure damage.

A review of the status in the regions of EHRs follows and is well worth a look for interest.

See here:

http://www.zdnetasia.com/digital-medical-records-provide-critical-backup-62208013.htm

Just as with Hurricane Katrina we see there is a place for electronic records - assuming they are properly protected from disaster.

Does anyone have any stories from Queensland, Victoria or WA where things worked (or didn’t)?

David.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

The article says: "... if rescue parties and medical teams are aware of the profile of people in danger ..."

The privacy implications of this have to be thought through very carefully. While access to a patient's record in an emergency is a standard use case, access to a population's records is not.

IMHO this should not be a use case that is part of any sort of EHR. Rather a separate process whereby emergency services organisations are made aware of people with special needs, such as home dialysis, should be created.

A shared EHR, however, would be extremely useful in treating those who are brought in for medical attention.

Anonymous said...

"access to a population's records is not."

All EHR access should be subject to the person's consent. I suggest the consent model include a question for just such circumstances. Assuming there is the ability within the EHR system to support such a use case which also requires knowledge of the person's location:

"RFID wrist band anyone? It's for your own health! :)"

"Why thank you big brother..."