Health information exchanges invaluable in disasters


The implementation of health information technology and participation in a state-wide health information exchange (HIE) can be vital to helping organisations cope with natural disasters. That is the view of John Meharg, director of health information technology at Moore Medical Center (MMC), a 45-bed community hospital in Moore, OK, which was destroyed by a tornado earlier this year.

“The disaster heightened the awareness of how critical disaster preparedness is, how important it will be if your community suffers such a catastrophic event where your health facilities are heavily damaged or even destroyed, as was the case in Moore,” said Meharg in an article in the Journal of the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA).

In the aftermath of the tornado, MMC was able to access patient records online. This eliminated delays and the need for requesting hard copies. In MMC's case, the HIE was available for physicians to access patients' past medical histories, even if patients were not taken to their normal healthcare facility or system.

“We’ve learned from the experience of our members who are affected by disasters that information is a lifesaver,” said AHIMA CEO Lynne Thomas Gordon. “AHIMA is committed to a future in which health information is available where and when it’s needed.” 

health information technology, health information exchange, HIE, Moore Medical Center, MMC