|The Health Record Review
by Jeff Rowe, Editor
Posted on Thu, Nov 01, 2012 - 01:54 pm
Hurricane Sandy did a lot of nasty things, but one “good” thing it may also have done is demonstrate both the value of health IT and how much progress has been made on the digital transition.
In this article, David Whitlinger, executive director of New York eHealth Collaborative (NYeC), gives an update on the role played by EHRs and the HIEs in greater New York as patients and healthcare professionals worked to adjust to what Sandy threw their way.
For one thing, he notes that the region’s data centers and connectivity infrastructure successfully weathered the storm, and that’s a plus for the city’s hospitals.
“The hospitals that are receiving patients now,” he said, “from some of the other hospitals that are having to move patients around, they have continuity because they are able to access the records through the HIE.”
For health IT proponents looking for a success story, however, it may not get much better than the following:
“In the aftermath of Katrina,” Whitlinger recounted, “patients are going to their physicians not knowing what medications they were on, and not knowing what their steady state vital signs were. It's just not something patients carry with them. It's all recorded on paper record. A lot of patients had to start from scratch when they started interacting with the healthcare system on the other side of the disaster.
“Here we are a few years later, in New York, having invested several hundred million dollars in a HIE network, and we have much, much greater continuity of care, and much greater continuity of electronic health records. At a minimum, a majority of all healthcare institutions have electronic health records, and the back ups of those records are not even in the city, they're elsewhere across the country. So even if the healthcare provider is not connected to the network, at a minimum, the patient's data is not lost. It's not paper. It's somewhere else. It's bits, and these bits are backed up in other parts of the country, so that in times of disaster they're always available.”
Sandy came packing nearly 1,000 miles of clouds, but nonetheless there was still a bit of silver lining.
Photo courtesy of Brian R. Birke via Creative Commons