HHS Announces Disaster Preparedness Tool to Improve Resilience of Home-Based Care
July 8, 2015 09:41 AM
The US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) recently announced a disaster preparedness tool to help communities prepare for and respond to the needs of individuals who rely on electrically powered medical and assistive equipment in their homes. The tool, which is called HHS emPOWER MAP, is a Geographic Information System that integrates patient data with severe weather tracking.
Dr. Nicole Lurie, HHS assistant secretary for preparedness and response, explained the tool’s importance due to the increase in home-based care. “With the rise in home-based care, real-time awareness of population-level needs, and the ability to respond to them, is critical,” explained Dr. Nicole Lurie, HHS’ assistant secretary for preparedness and response. “Better planning helps communities respond better and recover faster, and that’s where our emPOWER Map can provide the greatest benefit.”
The HHS emPOWER Map works by providing the total number of Medicare fee-for-service beneficiary claims for electricity dependent equipment and incorporating this data with a real-time sever weather tracking system. The weather tracking system was developed in coordination with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
“For people who rely on electricity-dependent medical equipment, prolonged power outages can mean life or death,” explained Dr. Nicole Lurie, HHS’ assistant secretary for preparedness and response. “This tool helps communities better anticipate, plan for, and respond to these unique needs of this population and improve resilience for the entire community before and after disasters.”
According to HHS, more than 1.6 million Medicare fee-for-service beneficiaries nationwide rely medical or assistive equipment that is dependent on electricity.
HHS says that the tool will help communities and health providers work respond to a disaster by determining priority areas for restoring electrical service based on the number of individuals relying on electricity-based equipment in a given area, as well as the extent of emergency shelter, transportation and evacuation needs.
The HHS emPOWER Map protects patient privacy consistent with the Health Information Portability and Accountability Act and the Federal Privacy Act. The tool was developed jointly by the HHS’ Office of Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Advocacy.
You can access the tool here.