Hurricane Katrina Highlights Need For Electronic Medical Record-Keeping - InformationWeek
08:47 PM

Hurricane Katrina Highlights Need For Electronic Medical Record-Keeping

The storm destroyed medical records that were needed to give victims medical attention.

As victims of Hurricane Katrina sought medical treatment, they faced destroyed facilities and missing medical histories.

"We've learned a lot about what we lack as a nation with the Katrina disaster--we lack the essentials," Daniel Martich, a doctor who heads up the electronic medical records initiative at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, told attendees of the InformationWeek Fall Conference on Monday. Among those essentials, Martich says, are electronic lists of the medications, allergies, and immunizations that would help emergency medical personnel provide more rapid treatment during a crisis.

Better records would help save $300 billion a year now lost to errors, misdiagnosis, and unnecessary duplication of tests resulting from inadequate access to information, said Leslie McCombs, the medical center's senior director of special projects. Meanwhile, the health-care industries of Canada and England are 12 to 18 months ahead of the United States and are making progress on reducing that waste, CIO Dan Drawbaugh said.

The medical center is attempting to lead the E-records charge, thanks in large part to the $402 million deal it signed with IBM to create a unified digital architecture in which information flows freely among its 19 hospitals and 4,000 physicians. As part of that deal, the two partners also are jointly overseeing a $200 million venture-capital fund to design, develop, and commercialize health care technologies.

In order to build tools the industry actually will use, software vendors have to take into account the increasingly harried nature of health-care delivery. For instance, Martich said physicians only are able to spend an average of seven minutes with patients during follow-up visits, making the physicians highly resistant to interacting with clunky software. For that reason, the medical center views its E-records effort as a physician- and clinician-driven operational project, not an IT initiative. "You have to design the most time-saving thing they can do, and then they'll do it," Martich said. "We're getting there because we're paying attention to those workflow and cultural issues."

We welcome your comments on this topic on our social media channels, or [contact us directly] with questions about the site.
Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
2017 State of IT Report
2017 State of IT Report
In today's technology-driven world, "innovation" has become a basic expectation. IT leaders are tasked with making technical magic, improving customer experience, and boosting the bottom line -- yet often without any increase to the IT budget. How are organizations striking the balance between new initiatives and cost control? Download our report to learn about the biggest challenges and how savvy IT executives are overcoming them.
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
White Papers
Current Issue
Top IT Trends for 2018
As we enter a new year of technology planning, find out about the hot technologies organizations are using to advance their businesses and where the experts say IT is heading.
Twitter Feed
Sponsored Live Streaming Video
Everything You've Been Told About Mobility Is Wrong
Attend this video symposium with Sean Wisdom, Global Director of Mobility Solutions, and learn about how you can harness powerful new products to mobilize your business potential.
Flash Poll