New England planners look to athenahealth to track epidemic health outcomes

Published 16 November 2006

Exercise at Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center will test an Internet-based approach to handling patient care; ability to provide surge capacity and manage patient records key factors; athenaNet platform supports the system

Emergency response planners in New England are looking to the Internet to help track infectious disease epidemics. Naturally, they are not the first to come up with the idea, but a system exercise this week will help iron out the kinks and provide guidance to other regions undertaking or considering similar programs. Supported by DHS’s Northern New England Metropolitan Medical Response System (NNE MMRS), the exercise is being held at Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center and will test the hospital’s ability to provide surge capacity during large scale events and to effectively distribute additional patients to alternative care facilities in surrounding communities. This is important because of the great risk of losing patient records during an emergency — especially when patients are shuttled between sites — and for post-event review of planning and procedures.

The software involved is based on athenahealth’s athenaNet platform, designed to give medical treatment facilities the ability to register patients, track them through different facilities, and document the emergency care they receive during a catastrophic public health emergency. For the purpose of today’s demonstration, athenaNet will be used to track patient care information for approximately fifty volunteer patients. The pilot program will also measure health care utilization during the disaster event and track the complete cost of care. “athenaNet has a very flexible architecture that we hope will enable us to adapt to the rapidly changing landscape during an emergency medical response, particularly in the face of pandemic event,” said Dr. Robert Gougelet, program director for the NNE MMRS.

-read more at MMRS Web site