Health IT panel to study EHR use in disasters
Mike Leavitt, secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, this week asked the American Health Information Community – the panel of government and private-sector executives seeking to accelerate deployment of electronic health records (EHRs) – to develop recommendations on how EHRs can be used in a disaster that leaves many people without their medical records and prescriptions for medication.

Leavitt did not provide details on how the commission would proceed.

He said this task stemmed from the White House report on lessons learned from the Hurricane Katrina disaster. “In coordination with the Department of Homeland Security and other homeland security partners, the Department of Health and Human Services should strengthen the federal government’s capability to provide public health and medical support during a crisis,” the report states. “This will require the improvement of command and control of public health resources, the development of deliberate plans, an additional investment in deployable operational resources, and an acceleration of the initiative to foster the widespread use of interoperable electronic health records systems.”