The Security Scrutinizer with Howard Anderson

IT's Role in Disaster Responses

IT's Role in Disaster Responses

That point is clear in a draft of a biennial implementation plan for the National Health Security Strategy. Regulators are accepting comments on the draft through Aug. 26.

Rather than creating a national database, the best way to provide access to health information during a disaster is by linking systems electronically, according to the draft.

Accomplishing all these lofty goals is a tall order, especially because the report assumes there will be no significant public funds available for national health security in the next two years. 

"The model for a common national approach should include very specific requirements about how to link systems electronically, including specifying where linking is appropriate or not, providing applicable standards for doing so and developing a process to guide how these will change over time," according to the draft.

The draft also calls for the creation of a governance model during the next two years, acknowledging "there is currently no overarching organizational structure" to oversee coordination among various organizations and implementation of electronic links.

And it calls for creation of a consortium of health departments to "compile, implement and evaluate a suite of low-cost, easy-to-implement, innovative practices that allow public health authorities to collect and analyze data relevant to national health security."

Coordination of the efforts of health care organizations, public health agencies and emergency response teams will require that "systems, infrastructures and technologies, such as those used for communication...function effectively together," the draft notes.

One key challenge, the plan points out, is addressing how to maintain information privacy while sharing data.

Accomplishing all these lofty goals is a tall order, especially because the report assumes that "there will be no significant sums of new public funds available for national health security in the next two years."

The creation of local, regional and statewide health information exchanges, which ultimately could be linked to share data nationally, could prove vital to a national response to disasters. But most HIEs are in the formative stages. That means building a virtual national network built on HIEs is a long ways off.

So what do we do in the meantime? Share your thoughts with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services as it crafts a plan for the next two years.

About the Author

Howard Anderson

Howard Anderson

News Editor, ISMG

Anderson is news editor of Information Security Media Group and was founding editor of HealthcareInfoSecurity and DataBreachToday. He has more than 40 years of journalism experience, with a focus on healthcare information technology issues. Before launching HealthcareInfoSecurity, he served as founding editor of Health Data Management magazine, where he worked for 17 years, and he served in leadership roles at several other healthcare magazines and newspapers.

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