States safeguard HIE for disaster recovery
Working to ensure the availability and portability of health
records in the wake of hurricanes or tornadoes, four Gulf Coast states
and six states in the East and Midwest have set up infrastructure to
protect access to critical health information.
Health information exchange programs in Alabama, Georgia,
Louisiana, Florida, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, Michigan,
Wisconsin and West Virginia are working with the Department of Health
and Human Services and the Office of the National Coordinator for Health
IT to enable exchange of health information among providers caring for
patients who are displaced from their homes.
All of the state HIE programs participating in the
initiative currently have established at least one operational
interstate connection and are working with other states including
Arkansas and Mississippi, officials say.
The 10-state initiative relies on the Direct protocol, an
ONC-led public-private collaboration that allows for the secure exchange
of health information over the Internet.
"Through disasters like Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane
Sandy and large tornadoes in Alabama and Joplin, Missouri, in 2011 and
more recently in Moore, Oklahoma, we have learned the importance of
protecting patients' health records through electronic tools like health
information exchanges," said Farzad Mostashari, MD, national
coordinator for health IT, in a press statement. "Patients are better
off when states and health information exchange organizations work
together to ensure that health information can follow patients when they
need it the most."
A guidebook, published by the Agency for Healthcare
Research and Quality, is also available to help primary care clinicians
connect their patients' electronic health records to a local HIE hub and
regional health information organizations.
The guide, Regional Health e-Decisions: A Guide to Connect Health Information Exchange in Primary Care, is available here.
The Southeast Regional Health IT and Health Information
Exchange Collaboration is leading this collaboration. SERCH was funded
through ONC's State Health Policy Consortium and its members include
Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Georgia, Mississippi, North Carolina,
South Carolina, Kentucky, Tennessee and Virginia.
Since SERCH began in April 2010, similar collaborations,
using a variety of methods, have helped to resolve cross-border barriers
toward facilitating the multi-state exchange of health information,
In 2012, SERCH completed an analysis of barriers to health
information exchange and issued recommendations for developing HIE
infrastructure to support disaster preparedness and response.
In its final report, SERCH recommended a phased approach to
use existing data sources such as health plans and state agencies to
overcome barriers to HIE across states. It can be found here.
"The SERCH effort will enable health care providers to
contact a patient's health plans and available health care providers for
information about the patient's medical history when it is most
needed," said Nicole Lurie, MD, assistant secretary for preparedness and
response in the Department of Health and Human Services. "But patients
can help protect their own information and that of their children by
saving it electronically."#HealthandHumanServicesWorkingGroup