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Disaster Relief Plan Using Telemedicine

The recent hurricanes and earthquakes experienced in our region are a reminder of how devastating natural disasters can be to our routines. The living and working conditions of whole communities have been altered; even access to healthcare is affected in the aftermath. Planning for alternative methods of care is crucial for any community in the wake of these type of disasters.

Tropical Storm

Telemedicine, or virtual care, has been highlighted as a solution in the relief efforts. Telemedicine allows providers from all over the country to access patients who may be unable to leave their home or shelter. In some cases, telemedicine can literally save a life. Having a disaster relief plan in place can make a world of difference when caring for those who are dealing with the trauma and effects of a natural disaster.

 

The American Telemedicine Association has organized some helpful resources for healthcare providers regarding disaster preparation and relief:

  • Online patient consultations and remote patient monitoring that can be utilized in providing care for displaced disaster victims who need it most, such as emergency and triage care
  •  Telepsychiatry visits and support with therapists are particularly useful for patients dealing with post-disaster trauma
  • Patients’ medical records can be accessed through online patient portals and/or through the use of electronic medical records

The ATA also offers guidelines for out-of-state doctors who wish to assist the recovering communities and cases in which telemedicine is most helpfulView more resources from the ATA at: http://www.americantelemed.org/main/home/disaster-resources

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