HIMSS Katrina Phoenix Battles Ongoing Hurricane Effects with Health IT Donations

The force of Katrina continues to impact medical practices confronting daily challenges of patient care in a ravaged environment. HIMSS Katrina Phoenix reconstitutes devastated Gulf Coast practices with loss-preventive and paper-independent IT infrastructures

CHICAGO – (February 13, 2006) –Turning good intentions into contributions distinguishes the Health Information Management Systems Society (HIMSS) Katrina Phoenix project. In action since September, 2005, the task force draws on a multi-disciplinary advisory to map electronic health record (EHR) vendor donations of software and services to in-need practices. Physician leaders, vendors, and state representatives are now in the first live-execution phase of incorporating EHR into two Louisiana and three Mississippi practices devastated by the August, 2005 hurricane.

“After a recent visit to the New Orleans region, I am now even more dedicated to the Katrina Phoenix vision to aid practices obliterated by the hurricane,” said project leader Patricia Wise RN, MSN, MA, Colonel, USA (retired) and HIMSS vice president.  “The intensity of need is incredible, and the practices we visited are exceptionally grateful for the level of EHR donations we are able to offer.”

With a patient base still suffering from insomnia, depression and anxiety, Waveland Medical Center is a recipient of the Katrina Phoenix EHR project. Waveland’s Roberta Chilimiagras, MD – who lost both home and practice—is rebuilding with donations from patients and extended family. At present, Waveland’s small staff provides care in a donated tent. This represents progress to the practice, which did not bill patients until October, 2005, after 9.5 feet of water surged through their offices and destroyed everything –including paper medical charts.

“The extent of damage depended on where your chart sat on the shelf,” said Lynn Murray, medical assistant at Waveland. “The EHR will benefit us because it will be backed up somewhere else. At this point we’re starting from zero and we have a hard battle but we’re ready.”

“I couldn’t be prouder of our EHRVA members, and the EHR industry in general, for their generosity in helping physicians in the Gulf Region get back on their feet.  We all believe that a strong EHR infrastructure would have mitigated some of the chaos post-Katrina.  It seems only fitting that those most dramatically impacted will lead the way for other states and regions in demonstrating the benefits of electronic health records – improved communications for better, more efficient care,” said Charlene Underwood, HIMSS Electronic Health Record Vendors Association (EHRVA)  Chairperson and Director, Government and Industry Relations for Siemens Medical Solutions.

The Advisory Board continues to experience the spirit of Katrina Phoenix as compelling even to competing vendors who must coordinate to produce sustainable systems. The project also provides physician mentoring to transition workflow. The opportunity for individuals and organizations to make a difference in the affected regions is proving as powerful as any market force. 

"As the Medicare QIO for Mississippi, IQH supports the adoption of EHRs in physician practices.  The Katrina Phoenix Project will assist physicians needing support following the destruction along the Mississippi Gulf Coast,” said Katrina Phoenix Advisory Member, James S McIlwain, MD, President and CEO of Information and Quality Healthcare (IQH). “This project will have a positive impact on the use of EHRs in small to medium-sized practices and perhaps lead this region towards regional health information structures for the exchange of health information."

Contributing EHR Vendors

  • A4 Health Systems
  • Companion Technologies
  • Greenway Medical Technologies
  • HealthLanguage
  • InteGreat
  • JMJ Technologies
  • Lakes Health Systems "MerCure"
  • MD Synergy
  • MedcomSoft
  • MedicAlert Foundation
  • MediNotes Corporation
  • Medpracticeflow
  • MedQuist
  • Misys Healthcare
  • Optimal Practice Solutions
  • OptimizeIT
  • Practice Partner (PMSI).
  • RedMedic
  • SoapWare
  • SRIT
  • TeleVital

About HIMSS Katrina Phoenix

The HIMSS Katrina Phoenix Project, initiated in September 2005, is focused on aiding paper-based medical practices - decimated by Katrina - by rebuilding with Electronic Health Records (EHR). A 27-member, multi-disciplinary Advisory committee of HIMSS leaders, physicians and healthcare administrators, HIMSS EHRVA, and Louisiana and Mississippi Quality Improvement Organization representatives coordinates EHR gifts, practice selection and implementation, services and mentoring to transition recipients to EHR-based care. Two Louisiana and three Mississippi practices are currently in-process of reconstitution. To participate in HIMSS Katrina Phoenix, contact David Collins at dcollins@himss.org.

Katrina Phoenix is hosted by Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS). For more information, visit http://www.himss.org


Julia Zarb, PhD
Zarb Consulting

Daily care delivery from a tent more than five months post-Katrina-Waveland Medical Center, Waveland, MS

Daily care delivery from a tent more than five months post-Katrina-Waveland Medical Center, Waveland, MS

More than five months post-Katrina salvaged paper medical records remain inaccessible - Hancock Medical Center

More than five months post-Katrina salvaged paper medical records remain inaccessible - Hancock Medical Center Bay St. Louis, MS