Health information exchange organizations in 10 states in the South, East and Midwest have entered into an agreement to use the federally developed Direct clinical messaging protocol to help their members transmit and receive patient medical records in the event of a disaster.
The ability to electronically exchange the medical records of disaster victims has long been a goal of healthcare information technology boosters, dating at least as far back as 2005 and Hurricane Katrina. The survivability and interoperability of records through the use of health IT systems and regional health information exchanges proved crucial to continuity of care during the tornado strikes this spring in Oklahoma.
The latest states to jump on the Direct interoperability bandwagon include Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Florida, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, Michigan, Wisconsin and West Virginia. All of their state-wide health information exchange organizations have established the capability to exchange messages with at least one other state, and will continue to work with one another to enable the exchange of records between them in the event of their residents being displaced from their homes, according to an announcement today by the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology.