Health IT passes first big test with Hurricane Harvey

Policymakers and health care providers can celebrate one quiet success in the wake of the Houston storm: the computers are still running.

The preservation of patient health records represents a partial vindication for the HITECH Act, the 2009 EHR stimulus package that was conceived, in part, as a way to ameliorate natural disasters like Hurricane Katrina by replacing waterlogged paper with modern technology.

Several Houston hospitals contacted by POLITICO — including MD Anderson, Houston Methodist, and Texas Children’s — as well as area providers said their EHRs and technology had functioned without pause through the deluge.

“We are doing well,” said health IT researcher Hardeep Singh, who was working at Houston’s Michael E. DeBakey Veterans Affairs Medical Center during Harvey. “Only thing needed is food for residents and I’m about to go pick up some pizza for them from the only shop we found open.”

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