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Health information technology 'control tower' could improve earthquake response
Date:3/21/2011

NEW YORK (Mar. 21, 2011) -- A new study published by researchers at Weill Cornell Medical College and the University of California, Davis, foresees improvements in patient outcomes after a major earthquake through more effective use of information technology. A control tower-style telemedicine hub to manage electronic traffic between first responders and remote medical experts could boost the likelihood that critically injured victims will get timely care and survive, according to the team's computer simulation model.

"Since its introduction in the 1970s, telemedicine -- the electronic linkage of health care providers and recipients -- has held promise for improved disaster response outcomes. As information technology becomes pervasive, we want to ensure that systems are in place to fully realize its potential for helping patients -- particularly for emergency response," says study senior author Dr. Nathaniel Hupert, associate professor of public health and medicine at Weill Cornell Medical College and co-director of the Cornell Institute for Disease and Disaster Preparedness.

The team's results, published in the Journal of Medical Systems, show that introducing telemedicine linkages between remote specialists and immediate responders in the aftermath of a widespread disaster like an earthquake could decrease both patient waiting times and hospitalization rates at nearby hospitals, while increasing the likelihood that patients with life-threatening injuries receive appropriate care -- as compared with standard emergency department-based triage and treatment.

These findings demonstrate the power of interdisciplinary approaches to complex issues at the border between medicine, public health and logistics, says study lead author Dr. Wei Xiong, assistant professor of public health at Weill Cornell Medical College. "We applied engineering methods more commonly used to analyze queuing systems like telephone call centers and road
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Contact: John Rodgers
jdr2001@med.cornell.edu
212-821-0560
New York- Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center/Weill Cornell Medical College
Source:Eurekalert

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