ONC initiative aims to improve data exchange in emergencies

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The Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT is launching a campaign to promote an interoperable and connected emergency system, according to a recent post to the Health IT Buzz blog. 

In conjunction with the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response Emergency Care Coordination Center, ONC hopes to paint a more accurate picture of a patient's medical history during emergencies.

"There are many challenges to sharing of EMS data, including funding, proprietary systems, and a lack of collaboration. ... It's our hope that EMS will become a full participant in the electronic exchange of health information," ONC analysts Kevin Horahan and Tara Holland write. "This would entail the regular and secure two-way exchange between EMS and other health care facilities and payers."

ONC thinks its efforts will lead to more efficient transitions of care, integration of EMS into the healthcare system and better patient outcomes and experiences--all while improving resilience in the face of disasters.

The collaboration's first campaign is focused on health IT in a pre-hospital environment.

Data transfer between health IT systems often is inadequate from a patient-safety perspective, according to a February 2013 analysis of health IT-related safety events by the ECRI Institute Patient Safety Organization.

Similarly, linking patient medical data between hospitals and medical flight crews can reduce deaths. When local hospitals transfer patients to higher-level care facilities, there's at least a 30 percent higher death rate than if they had stayed put, according to researchers from Case Western Reserve University's nursing school.

To learn more:
- read the Health IT Buzz post
- see the collaboration community online

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