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Sequoia Project To Launch PULSE Health IT Platform Nationwide

The Sequoia Project will develop a nationwide deployment plan to expand the PULSE health IT platform for disaster response.

The Sequoia Project will extend its PULSE health IT platform to give disaster assistance to healthcare organizations nationwide.

Source: Thinkstock

By Kate Monica

- The Sequoia Project recently announced it will develop a nationwide deployment plan for the Patient Unified Lookup System for Emergencies (PULSE) health IT platform that will expand the reach of the disaster response system.

ONC and the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR) launched PULSE in the wake of Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Sandy to ensure physicians, nurse practitioners, and other clinicians have access to patient EHRs when volunteering to deliver care in shelters during natural disasters.

As part of its efforts to extend PULSE nationwide, the Sequoia Project also formed an advisory council to provide guidance throughout the deployment plan development process.

“Disasters and other events are unpredictable and disruptive and place unique demands on public health, private sector healthcare, first responders and other key resources,” said Sequoia Project CEO Mariann Yeager. “People need seamless healthcare, whether for emergency care or just uninterrupted prescription access, when they are displaced by a disaster.”

Many health systems and providers activated the PULSE platform during the 2017 California wildfires.

The PULSE advisory council will draw upon these previous experiences to inform the platform’s nationwide deployment in other states through input about governance, activities, and policies. The nationwide platform will improve health data exchange between volunteers and community providers during natural disasters across regions. 

The advisory council includes experts from federal and state governments, emergency response organizations, health information networks (HINs), healthcare provider organizations, and clinician groups.

Specifically, the group includes California Association of Health Information Exchanges (CAHIE) Executive Director Rim Cothren, California Emergency Medical Services Authority (CalEMSA) Chief Deputy Director Dan Smiley, CMS Interoperability Lead Tom Novak, and ONC Public Health Analyst Rachel Abbey.

“PULSE is a public-private collaborative effort focused on ensuring our cities, counties and states are ready for when the next disaster strikes,” said Yeager. “Disasters and other serious events are inevitable, but how we handle them improves daily, and this effort will help communities take an important step forward toward more effective disaster response.”

The team also includes HHS ASPR Senior Program Analyst and emPOWER Program Manager Kristen Finne, Audacious Inquiry Technical Implementation Director of Master Data Management Services Jeremy Wong, Texas eHealth Alliance (TEHA) Executive Director Nora Belcher, and others.

Webinar will outline ways to use DirectTrust framework to accelerate uses of FHIR

Elsewhere in health data exchange news, DirectTrust recently announced it will host a webinar addressing ways providers can use the DirectTrust framework and PKI infrastructure to support the use of Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (FHIR) throughout the healthcare industry.

“While the health IT policy world addresses individual interoperability standards, in the care world, practitioners and health care professionals often use several standards at the same time, for different kinds of tasks and use-cases,” said DirectTrust CEO David Kibbe in an emailed press release.

The webinar will explore ways to improve nationwide interoperability using both Direct and FHIR standards.

“Recently, the DirectTrust community has had the opportunity to work more closely with FHIR, which was developed without a native trust framework that could scale nationally and enable inter-organizational exchanges between any two parties without the need for additional ID proofing or enrollment,” said Kibbe.

“The DirectTrust developed such a trust framework more than five years ago to allow Direct exchanges to go forward within a trusted community,” Kibbe continued.

Together, DirectTrust and FHIR can enhance trust and interoperability across healthcare organizations to save providers time and money and enable patients to have greater access to health information from a variety of sources.

DirectTrust will host the webinar on May 21.

DirectTrust and HL7 have collaborated in the past to address the ways FHIR and Direct standards can work together to yield improvements in health data exchange.

In August, the organizations jointly released a white paper exploring the ways FHIR and Direct standards can be used in conjunction, given that Direct provides a framework for trust that the FHIR framework presently lacks. The paper identified the contexts, advantages, and challenges for Direct and FHIR, among other topics. 

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