New Electronic Disaster Response System Launched in Texas


This article was submitted by the Texas Health Services Authority and does not necessarily reflect official policy of the Texas Medical Association. 

Using Texas’ statewide health information exchange (HIE), the state has launched a new system that gives disaster response volunteers remote, secure access to patients’ electronic health information when treating them in alternate care sites during declared emergencies.  

The Texas Health Services Authority (THSA) recently stood up the Patient Unified Lookup System for Emergencies (PULSE) platform in Texas in partnership with Audacious Inquiry. PULSE falls under a suite of statewide HIE services known as “HIETexas” overseen by THSA, a public-private partnership.  

Through national health information networks such as eHealth ExchangeCommonWell, and Carequality, the HIETexas PULSE system is able to leverage data from multiple local HIE networks in Texas, such as HASA, a multiregional HIE, and PHIX, the HIE serving the greater El Paso area.   

"HIETexas PULSE allows these disaster response volunteers to access electronic health information, such as medication history, in situations in which they would otherwise have no access to health information outside of that provided directly by the patient," said Carlos Vital, MD, a member of THSA's board. The system can be accessed remotely and securely from a smart phone, tablet, or laptop. This is ideal for care provided in alternate care sites, which, unlike most routine health care settings, may not have access to an electronic health record system. In addition to clinical data access for disaster response, HIETexas PULSE also allows public health professionals, such as epidemiologists, to utilize the system for case management purposes.  

The PULSE system also leverages the HIETexas Emergency Department Encounter Notification (HIETexas EDEN) system to provide a view of hospital and emergency department admissions and discharges for family reunification and patient coordination efforts. Authorized users of this system can upload a list of missing persons to automatically search against HIETexas EDEN’s admit, discharge, transfer feed. When a missing person is identified as having presented to a participating EDEN facility, the end user receives an alert that a match has been made. This allows the authorized end user to act as an intermediary to reunite the separated family members or connect displaced patients with their routine physicians and care providers. 

THSA is currently conducting end-user and administrator training in preparation for the 2021 hurricane season. If you are a disaster response volunteer or public health professional interested in learning more about HIETexas PULSE, please contact THSA.  

Last Updated On

June 30, 2021

Originally Published On

June 16, 2021

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