The devastating tornado that swept through Joplin on May 22 completely destroyed a number of physician offices, including that of Tracy Godfrey, MD, a Family Practitioner with the Family Health Center of Joplin. But thanks to electronic health records, Godfrey had access to all of her patients’ information, and in less than three days after the catastrophe, the practice was able to reopen its doors at a temporary location.
The Missouri Health Information Technology (MO HIT) Assistance Center traveled to Joplin to document Godfrey’s amazing story for “On the Road to EHR Success.” Godfrey’s experience demonstrates the safety, endurance, and value of electronic health records in the wake of a disaster. Although Family Health Center of Joplin lost the building and its contents, the practice survived because of the decision made years ago by Cynthia Croy, MD, Godfrey’s partner, to switch the clinic to an EHR.
Patient needs continue, regardless of whether or not Family Health Center of Joplin has an office, Godfrey points out. In their new temporary home, patients are greeted with a calm, relaxed, and inviting environment, a world away from the clinic’s chaotic disaster zone. Armed with her laptop and their EHR, Godfrey is free to focus solely on patient needs and not have to worry about recollecting their histories. It is truly business as normal.
Godfrey credits their IT specialist, John Motazedi, CEO, SNC2, for the data safety measures that protected their patient files and their rapid response that enabled Family Health Center of Joplin to recover their EHR data so quickly. Data were backed-up every 15-minutes and was stored on multiple servers, both onsite and at remote locations. Motazedi urges physicians on an EHR to do frequent data back-up and store it at multiple locations (other than their home) to protect and preserve data in the event of widespread destruction.
Godfrey and Croy wonder what impact the permanent loss of paper-based practices and their patient health records will have on the health and well-being of their community. As the people of Joplin struggle to recover and rebuild their lives, the strain could influence their health and possibly place a greater demand for health care services from a smaller pool of health care providers. To view Godfrey’s full story, click here.
If a disaster struck you, what would be the fate of your practice, patients, and community? Your practice could survive, if you use an EHR, and have appropriate back-ups.
For information on the Medicaid and Medicare EHR incentive programs, EHR adoption, or how the MO HIT Assistance Center helps health care providers adopt and achieve meaningful use of certified EHRs, please visit the Missouri Health Information Technology Assistance Center Website, E-mail us, or call us toll-free 1-877-882-9933.