HHS Launches Online Tool for Disaster Readiness | Healthcare Informatics Magazine | Health IT | Information Technology Skip to content Skip to navigation

HHS Launches Online Tool for Disaster Readiness

July 1, 2015
by Rajiv Leventhal
| Reprints

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has launched an online interactive tool to aid community health agencies and emergency management officials in disaster preparedness.

The tool, HHS emPOWER Map, is specifically for officials as they plan ahead to meet the emergency needs of community residents who rely on electrically powered medical and assistive equipment to live independently at home. According to HHS, more than 1.6 million Medicare fee-for-service beneficiaries nationwide rely on electricity-dependent medical and assistive equipment, such as oxygen concentrators, ventilators and wheelchairs.

The HHS emPOWER Map shows the monthly total number of Medicare fee-for-service beneficiaries’ claims for electricity-dependent equipment at the national, state, territory, county, and zip code levels. The tool incorporates these data with real-time severe weather tracking services from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in a Geographic Information System (GIS).

The integrated data accessible through the HHS emPOWER Map can help community organizations, including hospitals, first responders, and electric utility officials, work with health officials to prevent health impacts of prolonged power outages due to storms and other disasters on vulnerable residents, HHS officials say. For example, the HHS emPOWER Map could be used by electric utility companies to determine priority areas for restoring electrical service based on the location of the largest concentrations of electricity-dependent individuals. This could assist hospitals, healthcare coalitions and Emergency Medical Services in planning better for surges in medical services.

Emergency planners could also use the tool to anticipate whether emergency shelters might experience greater electricity demand due to higher concentrations of electricity-dependent Medicare beneficiaries nearby. Local officials could estimate more accurate assistance needs for transportation and evacuation when local mass transit systems are affected by prolonged power outages after disasters.

“For people who rely on electricity-dependent medical equipment, prolonged power outages can mean life or death,” Dr. Nicole Lurie, M.D., HHS’ assistant secretary for preparedness and response, said in a statement. “This tool helps communities better anticipate, plan for, and respond to these unique needs of this population and improve resilience for the entire community before and after disasters.”

Get the latest information on Health IT and attend other valuable sessions at this two-day Summit providing healthcare leaders with educational content, insightful debate and dialogue on the future of healthcare and technology.

Learn More

Topics

News

ONC Roundup: Senior Leadership Changes Spark Questions

The Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC) has continued to experience changes within its upper leadership, leading some folks to again ponder what the health IT agency’s role will be moving forward.

Media Report: Walmart Hires Former Humana Executive to Run Health Unit

Reigniting speculation that Walmart and insurer Humana are exploring ways to forge a closer partnership, Walmart Inc. has hired a Humana veteran to run its health care business, according to a report from Bloomberg.

Value-Based Care Shift Has Halted, Study Finds

A new study of 451 physicians and health plan executives suggests that progress toward value-based care has stalled. In fact, it may have even taken a step backward over the past year, the research revealed.

Study: EHRs Tied with Lower Hospital Mortality, But Only After Systems Have Matured

Over the past decade, there has been significant national investment in electronic health record (EHR) systems at U.S. hospitals, which was expected to result in improved quality and efficiency of care. However, evidence linking EHR adoption to better care is mixed, according to medical researchers.

Nursing Notes Can Help Predict ICU Survival, Study Finds

Researchers at the University of Waterloo in Ontario have found that sentiments in healthcare providers’ nursing notes can be good indicators of whether intensive care unit (ICU) patients will survive.

Health Catalyst Completes Acquisition of HIE Technology Company Medicity

Salt Lake City-based Health Catalyst, a data analytics company, has completed its acquisition of Medicity, a developer of health information exchange (HIE) technology, and the deal adds data exchange capabilities to Health Catalyst’s data, analytics and decision support solutions.