HHS developing emergency-responder health IT use

The Health and Human Services Department is developing details of an emergency-responder electronic health record as another early use for health IT. HHS plans to publish the final detailed use case in December, according to John Loonsk, director of interoperability and standards with the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT.

The need arose out of lessons learned from Hurricane Katrina, during which emergency providers had to assemble patient histories and medications with little information because flood waters had destroyed medical records.

Following the disaster, a federal study recommended use of interoperable electronic health records systems for use by emergency responders.

HHS' health IT coordinator and the American Health Information Community, a public-private advisory group, have established other health IT early uses for the exchange of data in electronic health records and consumer-controlled personal health records in response to bioterrorism and to support chronic-care treatment. The final version of the emergency-responder health record use case is expected for the next AHIC meeting is Dec. 12.

An emergency-responder electronic health record system will depend upon public and private systems being interoperable. That means standards must be harmonized for key health care data, HHS said in its detailed use case for an emergency-responder electronic health record.

Development of an emergency-responder electronic health record system would focus on the critical health information related to assessing, stabilizing and treating victims of emergencies, such as accidents and large group casualties. It would include minimum demographic, medication, allergy and problem list information.

About the Author

Mary Mosquera is a reporter for Federal Computer Week.

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