The ONC (Office of the National Coordinator for Health) recently blogged about disaster preparedness and health information exchange (HIE), citing the recent Hurricane Isaac as a reason for concern about accessing and locating health records in another state. In the event of a natural disaster, many people are displaced in neighboring states and may need access to their health records.
To answer the question, are we ready? the ONC created a consortium with representatives from several Southeast states; the Southeast Regional HIT-HIE Collaboration (SERCH). Their recommendations for HIE between different states in the event of a disaster are as follows:
While preparing for HIE in the event of a disaster is key to providing quality care, preserving and ensuring the availability of patient records is a healthcare organization’s responsibility. The HIPAA Contingency Plan standard described in section 164.308(a)(7) mandates the use of a data backup plan, disaster recovery plan, emergency mode operation plan, testing and revision procedures, and application and data criticality analysis.
Protecting healthcare data and ensuring its availability means putting procedures in place to mitigate disasters, and having a solid plan in-hand to activate when a disaster occurs. The infrastructure to do this is defined by two perspectives:
The use of HIE systems, including EHR (electronic health record) and EMR (electronic medical record) systems, requires data to be hosted in a secure, HIPAA compliant environment. To find out what components are necessary for a HIPAA compliant data center, including a full diagram and descriptions, read our HIPAA Compliant Hosting white paper.
DURSA from the National eHealth Collaborative
Disaster Preparedness and Health Information Exchange
Emergency Support Function #8 – Public Health and Medical Services Annex (PDF)
Southeast Regional HIT-HIE Collaboration (SERCH) Final Report: Health Information Exchange in Disaster Preparedness and Response (PDF)
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