From: Megan Molteni via Wired
Published September 1, 2017 09:03 AM

Harvey Evacuees Leave Their Blongings - And Health Records - Behind

Digitizing the world's medical records was supposed to make doctors' lives easier, and patients' lives longer. But unlike banking and shopping, medicine has had a rough time transitioning to the new digital order. Because health care providers use different systems for their electronic health care records, it’s still difficult for a patient’s data to follow them through the medical ecosystem.

Most of the time, siloed medical information is more of a nuisance than anything else. But when Hurricane Harvey hit the Houston area last week, evacuations and rescue efforts forced patients to seek treatment anywhere they could. And most of the time, their health records didn’t go with them. That information void can be almost as catastrophic as the catastrophe itself.

When Hurricane Katrina smashed into New Orleans in 2005, only about a quarter of doctors in the US reported using electronic medical records. Tens of thousands of patients lost their entire medical histories—boxes of paper files disintegrated or washed out to sea by the rising waters. Widespread data loss won’t be as much of a problem for Houston: Today, about 75 percent of providers keep records electronically. But patients still may have trouble accessing their records when it matters most: in the middle of crisis and recovery.

Read more at Wired

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