CAHIE has been collaborating with the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) and the California EMS Authority (EMSA) since 2014 to identify opportunities for HIE to support emergency response. One outcome was the development of a disaster response health information portal called the Patient Unified Lookup System for Emergencies, or PULSE.

PULSE was developed to provide disaster healthcare volunteers with access to electronic health information during times of large-scale emergency or disaster. It is intended to support five primary use cases, which are retrieving health information for:

  1. Patients evacuated from healthcare facilities in the effected area
  2. Injured victims transported by first responders
  3. Injured victims transported by themselves, family members, or neighbors
  4. Walking wounded presenting with minor injuries requiring treatment
  5. Evacuees seeking primary care for chronic conditions or health issues unrelated to the disaster

Users of PULSE are granted access through the California Disaster Healthcare Volunteers (DHV) database, which provides a vetted registry for individuals who have volunteered to serve during an emergency or disaster. Currently, DHV authorizes licensed physicians, pharmacists, nurses, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, paramedics, and EMTs to access health information for treatment purposes.

PULSE will most often be deployed during a declared disaster to alternative care facilities, such as field hospitals or evacuation centers offering medical services. When a disaster healthcare volunteer needs health information on a victim or evacuee, PULSE connects to HIEs, health systems, and other data sources across California to search for and retrieve health information on victims and evacuees. PULSE operates as a participant on the California Trusted Exchange Network (CTEN), and uses the technical standards developed for the eHealth Exchange and in common use on the CTEN.

PULSE Resources