Federal panel to recommend EMRs tailored for disaster response

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The National Biodefense Science Board (NBSB) is in favor of supporting the integration of an EMR system for use in federal disaster response efforts with future patient-tracking and medical resource availability systems, as well as its interoperability with other EMR systems.

The board, which plans to send its recommendations to the department of Health and Human Services soon, also said the National Disaster Medical System (NDMS), which is developing the EMR, should take the lead in defining the minimal patient dataset required, reported Government Health IT.

According to the board’s draft materials, “along with the EMR, there is a critical need to integrate the various patient-tracking and medical resources availability systems in use during a response to ensure that medical needs of patients are captured and that [patients] are transported to facilities that are ready to receive them and have the medical resources to treat them.”

NDMS, a partnership between HHS and the Defense, Homeland Security and Veterans Affairs departments, is designed to supplement state and local governments’ medical response to disasters and help move patients from a disaster area to other parts of the country and ensure they receive appropriate care at hospitals in unaffected areas.

Its report to HHS will indicate that much work remains to ensure an optimal EMR system. The draft recommendations state that NDMS is loosely integrated and "does not represent an overall system to provide for medical needs of patients at a time of national needs.” Government Health IT reported that the EMR system will help monitor changes in sentinel indicators of public health and allows officials to intervene early rather than wait for full-blown outbreaks.