EHR advocates back nationwide disaster-preparedness initiative

Newswire: April 9, 2018.

Dateline: Vienna, Va.

The Sequoia Project, a nationwide organization advocating health information exchange, is implementing a new project that involves electronic health records in local disaster preparedness efforts.

Called PULSE, for Patient Unified Lookup System for Emergencies, the project aims to get electronic health records in the hands of emergency medical professionals and healthcare providers in the event of a disaster, regardless of where its victims are being treated.

“PULSE is a public-private collaborative to ensure our cities, counties and states are ready for when the next disaster strikes,” Mariann Yeager, Sequoia’s chief executive, said in a statement. “There are always going to be disasters, and we are always seeking new ways to help people affected.”

PULSE acts to authenticate physicians, nurses, EMS personnel and other emergency workers (including those setting up evacuation centers and field hospitals) so that continuity-of-care documents for each patient can be shared to inform and optimize their treatment during an emergency.

The project seeks to retrieve patient data from hospitals, health information exchanges, pharmacies and other sources and match patients to their data. Sequoia is participating to support a broader deployment. PULSE is based on a demonstration program in California. Sequoia’s network reaches all 50 states through a public-private partnership comprising 75 percent of the nation’s hospitals, thousands of medical groups, and four federal agencies.

“This is an opportunity to put investments into practice. It’s a lesson for all of us to make an impact. Declared disasters are a scary and stressful time,” Yeager said. “Folks need seamless healthcare, whether for emergency care or just uninterrupted prescription access when they are displaced by a disaster.”

California’s pilot program was put into effect during souther California’s wildfire season of late 2017. But in such a remote area, evacuees and patients were instead sent to a local hospital instead of a field hospital or evacuation center.

Read the full story here.

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