GRAChIE Using eHealth Exchange to Mobilize Connection Points for Hurricane Florence Evacuees

World News: . []

VIENNA, Va., Sept. 14, 2018 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- As the nation braces for the force of Hurricane Florence, the Georgia Regional Academic Community Health Information Exchange (GRAChIE) is working to connect to eHealth Exchange participants in South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia and Florida in preparation for displaced evacuees.

Major disasters such as Hurricane Florence have an effect on healthcare information needs – even before they make landfall. Hurricane Florence has already resulted in the evacuation of millions who have left the places where they normally receive care and where their healthcare records are housed.

GRAChIE has been working diligently expand its connectivity to health information exchanges (HIEs) throughout the Southeast via the eHealth Exchange as quickly as possible before Hurricane Florence hits the coast.

“We are making great strides for building bridges and exchange throughout the southeast as the storm approaches,” said Tara Cramer, CEO of GRAChIE.  “We are currently taking connections live with the approach we used last year during Hurricane Irma with great success.”

“The eHealth Exchange network provides a nationwide backbone for health information sharing that enables network participants to share information in the normal course of care and to quickly expand those connections when emergencies arise, “said Jay Nakashima, Vice President of eHealth Exchange. “This ensures a state of readiness. In disaster situations such as Hurricane Florence, physicians must have instant access to electronic patient histories to provide safe and effective care.”

When disaster strikes, and families are relocated to shelters in their community or even further afield, prescription refills and other healthcare needs become more challenging. The Sequoia Project, building upon the work incubated by HHS, is spearheading a nationwide deployment plan for the health IT disaster response platform known as the Patient Unified Lookup System for Emergencies (PULSE). The PULSE system enables authorized disaster healthcare volunteers treating patients in field hospitals, outside the normal care setting to access patient records when they have been injured or displaced by disasters and other emergencies.

“Disasters and other events are unpredictable and disruptive and place unique demands on public health, private sector healthcare, first responders and other key resources,” said Mariann Yeager, CEO of The Sequoia Project. “People need seamless healthcare, whether for emergency care or just uninterrupted prescription access, when they are displaced by a disaster.”

The PULSE platform was activated in California for the 2017 and 2018 wildfires, and many area health systems and providers rallied behind the effort. This experience will guide further efforts to deploy PULSE in other states and regions by informing governance, activities and policies on a national-level platform to enable sharing among disaster healthcare volunteers and community providers.

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Globe Newswire: 13:34 GMT Friday 14th September 2018

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