Hurricane Sandy Mobile Health Lesson: Securing Personal Healthcare Info During Disruptions







By @Spitz

Connectivity is Key

My family lives in Carle Place, New York, a small hamlet amid the congested hustle and bustle of Long Island. One would think that the region and its burroughs, with the highest population density in the United States, would have an infrastructure more resilient than that of Somalia or Bangladesh, but Hurricane Sandy really knocked us out, an astonishing and unacceptable seventeen days without power: No lights, hot water, heat, or connectivity.

Thankfully we made it out alive, our two young kids digging the candles and camping-like atmosphere. Their parents, however, are with thousands of other disenfranchised utility customers eager to move on, and perhaps file our grievances. We were painfully inconvienced, but in no way felt our lives were threatened. But when connectivity goes down in a formal medical setting, issues of life and death become significant indeed. In July this year, for example, one of the nation’s top ten EHR systems went down, creating a very real emergency.

With hospitals and individual physicians becoming increasingly dependent on digital solutions and infrastructure, the need for continuously secure and safe connectivity increases exponentially. Creating redundant systems, both analog and digital, is expensive and begs the question of migrating to fully electronic solutions in the first place. As cost pressures continue to mount, a solution is more urgently needed than ever.

“Echo Base, I’ve Found Them!”








One solution, created by echoBase Software, is leveraging mobile devices to offer the most promising solution to provide 100% availability of patient medical records, without depending on a network or Internet connectivity. The echoBase’s solution, “Resonate,” securely manages medical records much like an email system manages mobile email. While a network connection is available, the records are securely synchronized between the physician’s mobile devices and their host EHR system. During periods of no connectivity and most significantly lost connectivity, the mobile devices can nonetheless work off-line to view and even update patient charts.

Exactly these types of data availability and data collection issues that are just now bubbling to the surface in healthcare have existed in manufacturing and the defense industry for decades. The echoBase design and development team is optimally suited for the task of adapted to healthcare, as they come directly out of the manufacturing and Department of Defense industries. Their sensitivity and experience with classified data requiring confidentiality, integrity, and high availability is long-standing. The team is also familiar with providing simple user interfaces for nontechnical personnel, exemplified by manufacturing shop floors and now very much needed in point of care healthcare environments.

Prevention as a Proven Solution

echoBase Software provides exactly such a solution with a backlog of 16,000 physicians spanning a dozen EHR companies. “Resonate” combines the capabilities of mobile computing devices with an exclusive software framework that leverages healthcare templates and workflow details such as order sets, charge code relationships, and examination guidance found in most EHR systems. Resonate automatically customizes native mobile device interfaces based on configuration data, then dynamically and securely synchronizes medical data updates with host EHR systems via HL7 messaging.

Resonate’s mobile interface can be implemented in phases: Phase 1 can be up and running in a matter of weeks and provides synchronization of appointments, patients’ demographics, and patients’ medical history directly to the users’ mobile devices. As updates are made on the host EHR system, changes are automatically reflected on the mobile devices. Phase 2 can include images and attachments followed by additional phases that provide off-line charting and charge capture. Order entry and ePrescribe are also in the plan, but may require a network connection due to requirements for real time access to ancillary data sources.

From EHR to PHR

On the healthcare consumer side, echoBase is offering “Resonate Patient,” the first solution that allows patients to carry their secure medical records on their mobile devices just like they carry their music and photos. Technically, Resonate Patient works just like Resonate Mobile for doctors. Patient data is automatically synchronized with their doctor’s EMR system whenever their medical record is updated.¬† That eliminates the need to log into an internet portal to get the latest medical history or call the doctor and ask for a report.

Resonate Patient increases patient safety when medical specialists or hospitals that do not have participating patient medical history on file. No longer do patients need to manually keep up with their personal medical history or look for an Internet connection in order to access their doctor’s medical portal — patients are able to have their medical history with them at all times. And for both physicians and patients, solutions like echoBase Software’s “Resonate” point to a more secure reality where natural or man-made disasters no longer threaten our digital health future.

Learn more about Resonate features and functionality, and leave your thoughts below.

Michael Spitz , known most often as just "Spitz," is Editor-in-Chief of the Pixels & Pills and a prollific tweeter, blogger, and article writer, active in digital health across all specialties. Follow him @SpitzStrategy.



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