The Sequoia Project is developing a nationwide deployment plan for Patient Unified Lookup System for Emergencies, a disaster response platform for health information access that was launched this past year in California.
First launched during the 2017 California wildfires, the PULSE platform makes critical patient data available during disasters, when patients may need to be treated by providers that don't have knowledge of their health history and may not have access to traditional electronic health records or health information exchange systems.
The system currently lets healthcare professionals, registered and authenticated through California's Emergency System for Advance Registration of Volunteer Health Professionals system, retrieve data on evacuees from statewide HIEs, hospital systems and other sources using national standards.
The PULSE approach was first conceived by the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT and Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response following experiences in Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy – natural disasters where physicians and nurses arrived at shelters to offer care, but their credentials couldn't be confirmed and they couldn't the evacuees’ data.
In California during the wildfires, the platform helped many area health systems to offer better care to those who were displaced. Now, the aim is to take the system nationwide.
Sequoia Project will also launch a PULSE advisory council to build on those early successes and help guide efforts to bring the platform to other states. It will focus on governance and policies for a national-level platform that enables more robust data sharing among healthcare volunteers and community providers.
"Disasters and other events are unpredictable and disruptive and place unique demands on public health, private sector healthcare, first responders and other key resources," said Mariann Yeager, CEO of The Sequoia Project, in a statement. "People need seamless healthcare, whether for emergency care or just uninterrupted prescription access, when they are displaced by a disaster."
The new advisory comprises experts from federal and state government, emergency response organizations, HIEs and providers. Its membership includes representatives from ONC, CMS, HHS, California Association of Health Information Exchanges, California Emergency Medical Services Authority, Dignity Health; Audacious Inquiry and Texas e-Health Alliance.
"PULSE is a public-private collaborative effort focused on ensuring our cities, counties and states are ready for when the next disaster strikes," said Yeager. "Disasters and other serious events are inevitable, but how we handle them improves daily, and this effort will help communities take an important step forward toward more effective disaster response."
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