Hospitals are scrambling to prepare for the impending Hurricane Florence, but many are not as ready as they could be for natural disasters. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has positioned medical equipment and personnel in North Carolina and Maryland, and has activated a contract for additional ambulances to evacuate hospitals if needed. It has also provided information to health officials on the number of Medicare beneficiaries relying on special medical equipment. A survey by e-prescribing and medication management solution company DrFirst revealed that secure messaging and patient communications, as well as backup generators and inventory management, are priorities for hospitals in disaster preparedness. Telehealth services are also valuable for treating stranded patients, although connectivity could be an issue. Moreover, hospitals should engage additional security staff and plan for issues such as break-ins, scarce supplies, and revenue interruptions. Lastly, hospitals should prioritize the well-being of their staff and make use of the resources of larger health systems.
The Health Information Exchange (HIE) market, playing a critical role in facilitating healthcare data sharing among providers, is projected to be worth $2 billion by