Hurricane Sandy Demonstrates Importance of Health Information Exchange



Photo: Allison Joyce, Getty Images

MEDCITY News posted a great article on how Hurricane Sandy demonstrated the importance of hospitals and practices having electronic medical records (EMR) and being connected to a health information exchange.

As Hurricane Sandy swept through the eastern coast of the US, it flooded parts of New York and caused power outages. A transformer explosion caused a power outage in Lower Manhattan and after back-up generators failed, the New York University Langone Medical Center had to evacuate patients in the middle of the storm.

Luckily, New York has a SHIN-NY health information exchange that connects a majority of the hospitals in New York. This connection to a health information exchange allows physicians to still have access to medical records of patients that were evacuated and treated in a different facility. Physicians can still have access to important information such as past medical history, past lab tests, drug prescriptions and allergies.

As mentioned in the article, “Looking back seven years, Hurricane Katrina became the storm that demonstrated the need for digital health records because so many paper-based medical records were lost, said New York eHealth Collaborative Executive Director David Whitlinger. When the flood waters inundated hospitals, their patients’ medical histories pretty much vanished. Now, Hurricane Sandy could be the storm that underscores the importance of having a health information exchange and a tested emergency plan.”

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