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Bethesda Hospitals’ Emergency Preparedness Partnership Health IT R&D Projects

The Bethesda Hospitals’ Emergency Preparedness Partnership (BHEPP) launched a research initiative in 2008 to support the Partnership’s efforts to enhance and sustain effective disaster response. The projects are aimed at evaluating innovative methods of sustaining communications during hospital disaster operations, improving preparedness and ensuring that essential information is accessible to hospital personnel at the point of need in a disaster.

BHEPP started a program of 11 research and development initiatives that focus on four areas of investigation.


Laser Communications between Hospitals: Roof-top lasers were installed at each partner hospital and transmit data between the hospitals as a back-up, private, and dedicated disaster communications system.

Dark Fiber Communications between Hospitals: A dedicated optical fiber network is established which will be used to transmit data between the hospital partners as an additional back-up method of disaster communications.

MARS Radio Backup: Customized digital Amateur radio technology and the Military Auxiliary Radio System (MARS), a DoD-sponsored entity, are being evaluated as back-up communications resources to move digital information via radio in a disaster. Wireless Communications Bridge: Technology is being evaluated that links voice communications systems used in disaster response including hand-held devices, land-line phone, mobile phone and radio, permitting cross-device communications.
Patient Information Management

Digital Pen Recording of Triage Data: The use of digital pens that record disaster patient triage data and uplink the data to a computer database is being evaluated; the system preserves triage data and provide hospital personnel with an updated overview of patient status. Tracking Patients with RFID / RTLS: This project evaluates the tracking of disaster patients and equipment with radio frequency identification (RFID) tags in a real-time location system (RTLS).
Patient Data Exchange: A core set of patient data elements is being devised so that hospital partners can communicate common patient data in a disaster. This project devised a digital solution could improve response by reducing transfer time and allowing practitioners to communicate common patient data in a disaster.
Information Access during Disaster Response

SureScripts-Rx Hub Prescription Data Access: This project aims to assess the coverage of the SureScripts database for patients who seek care at the target hospital, compare the timeliness, accuracy, completeness and importance of the SureScripts medication profile to that generated by the usual manual process, and develop a predictive model of the coverage and potential value of the online information based on patient characteristics (e.g. demographics and insurance coverage).

The Disaster Information Specialist: A new role for medical librarians, the Disaster Information Specialist, has been pioneered and is being evaluated. The Disaster Information Specialist acts as an information advisor for locating, accessing, organizing and managing disaster health information. Lost Person Finder: This project evaluates the use of information technology applications to facilitate the reunification of separated people via computer, mobile phone, PDAs and other media. A searchable, Web-based database of information from the BHEPP hospitals enables family, friends, and neighbors to locate missing patients during a disaster event.
Responder Preparedness Training

Virtual World Interactive Disaster Training: This project explores the usefulness of combining traditional multimedia instruction with “virtual world” technologies for disaster preparedness training. Traditional multimedia instruction using both professional graphics and narration provides a highly-engaging learning experience teaching factual information about various HICS (Hospital Incident Command System) duty positions.
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