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Santa Cruz HIO to Run California’s PULSE System in Emergencies

November 14, 2016
by David Raths
| Reprints
Tabletop drill of Patient Unified Lookup System for Emergencies planned for June 2017

The California Emergency Medical Service Authority has chosen the Santa Cruz Health Information Organization to operate a web portal system that will be activated during emergencies, enabling healthcare professionals employed by health systems or participating with health information organizations to access patient records through their existing systems.

During a disaster, patients are often transported out of the affected area and away from their usual health care provider system. One of the fundamental lessons learned during Hurricane Katrina was that health professionals need access to patient health information to avoid medical errors, renew medications, and coordinate care.

The PULSE  (Patient Unified Lookup System for Emergencies) project will establish connections between two community health information organizations (HIOs) or health systems via a secure web portal. When a disaster happens, the web portal will be activated so authorized healthcare professionals can access patient records from outside their own health systems through their existing electronic health record system or through a secure website.

Eventually healthcare providers will be able to access electronic health records from all over California whether they are treating patients in an unfamiliar hospital, an alternate care site or a mobile field hospital.

Development of PULSE has been funded by a $2.75 million grant from the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology to advance health information exchange statewide during a disaster and regionally in daily emergency medical services (EMS). Maryland-based Audacious Inquiry has been developing the PULSE system and will transition operations to Santa Cruz HIO in early 2017.  Audacious Inquiry has been working with the California Association of Health Information Exchanges (CAHIE) and ONC for the past several years to define the PULSE California use case and technical specification for the system.

This project is using exchange specifications, Integrating the Healthcare Enterprise (IHE) standards, and federated directory services enabled by the California Trusted Exchange Network (CTEN).

Following the transition, Santa Cruz HIO will integrate all of the components, including participating HIOs, define the operating procedures, and operate PULSE during a tabletop drill in June 2017.

Grant funding will also support the creation of technology, infrastructure and cooperative agreements to enable EMS providers on scene to exchange patient health information with local hospitals. Currently, paramedics on scene don’t have access to important health information for the patient they are treating such as allergies, health conditions, medications, and the patient’s pre-directed treatment or end-of-life decisions.





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