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The Sequoia Project to Launch Emergency Preparedness Workgroup

The workgroup will gather emergency preparedness experts from health information exchanges across the country.

The Sequoia Project announced it will launch an Emergency Preparedness Information Workgroup focused on interoperability and health IT challenges to support emergency preparedness.  

This workgroup, led by health IT professionals from health information exchanges (HIEs) across the country, will gather lessons learned from COVID-19 responses and make this information available to the public in case of future disasters.

It will focus on common interoperability and health IT challenges, such as policy and regulatory issues, programmatic challenges, data privacy, funding, resources, and communications, to spread awareness to other organizations. It will also provide a forum for participating members to share experiences, best practices, and interoperability recommendations. Furthermore, it will address innovations and potential roadblocks for public health, Medicaid, and other state agencies.

“States and local agencies, such as public health agencies, have had to rapidly adapt to unforeseen circumstances caused by the current pandemic. They’re often challenged to readily access the information they need for response efforts,” Debbie Condrey, chief information officer of The Sequoia Project and facilitator of the workgroup, said in a statement.

“With this new workgroup, we’re aiming to apply the lessons learned to improve timely access to information to support emergency preparedness for the future. We look forward to working together to find solutions to the interoperability challenges facing states during these unprecedented times,” Condrey continued.

This workgroup is another working part of The Sequoia Project’s Interoperability Matters Cooperative.

The Sequoia Project established the Interoperability Matters initiative in 2018 to advance real-world solutions to boost interoperability and eradicate information blocking. Just a few weeks ago, it added three additional subgroups, including healthcare providers, health IT developers, and health information exchanges (HIEs), to the existing Interoperability Matters Information Blocking Workgroup.

Participants of the Emergency Preparedness Information Workgroup include health IT professionals from, California EMSA, California Health Information Exchange, Common Spirit, Florida HIE, Florida Public Health, Georgia HIE, North Carolina Department of Health, Texas eHealth Alliance, and Texas Health Services Authority.

There are also participants from several key federal partners, The Sequoia Project added.

The group said meeting information will be available on the organization’s website and quarterly informational calls will review progress.

This is another instance of The Sequoia Project supporting health data exchange during emergencies.

The Sequoia Project partnered with Audacious Inquiry (Ai) to further support the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT’s (ONC) Patient Unified Lookup System for Emergencies (PULSE) platform, which provides secure health data exchange during an emergency.

PULSE, a cloud-based solution, enables emergency responders to search for health information, such as medications, diagnoses, allergies, and lab results on disaster victims. The solution limits medical information access to authorized personnel in a ‘view only’ format.

The platform works by aggregating data from health information exchanges in specific geographic regions and makes the data mobile-optimized. This makes it easier for first responders and volunteers to access health data that is often difficult to reach during emergencies such as pandemics, wildfires, hurricanes, terrorist attacks, or tornadoes.

Ai and The Sequoia Project work together to expand PULSE to other regions by connecting PULSE to other health information networks and providing program support. The two focus on product development, state and regional partnerships, implementation, rollout, and ongoing operations.

“PULSE was created to help in the scenario where there's a disaster, be it a flood or a wildfire, an earthquake, or even now a pandemic,” Jay Nakashima, executive director of eHealth Exchange, said in an interview with EHRIntelligence.

“Then above and beyond that, it's getting the disaster preparedness professionals trained on the solution, so they can present it to the clinicians when they present in the volunteer capacity,” he continued.

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