Doctors also felt the effects of the storm on their lives and businesses. Many lost their own homes and office space, and their medical records were destroyed. Few private physicians had previously obtained business interruption insurance, and even when they had, insurance companies were often slow to pay claims.
In the aftermath of the storm, a few points became clear. Medical professionals and policymakers need to establish a more focused and coordinated delivery system for heath services and to plan for health care needs both before and after a disaster. Physicians should provide optimal levels of patient education and proactively prepare their patients to be full partners in their own health care. Governments, medical professionals, and patients alike need to increasingly make use of mobile medical technology and electronic resources for storing and retrieving records and information. As Hurricane Katrina tragically proved, access to medical information and services can mean the difference between life and death.
About the Author:
Dr. Peter Killcommons is CEO of the San Francisco-based telemedical company Medweb, a leading provider of medical telecommunications services and humanitarian aid in conflict and disaster-stricken regions across the globe, including Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Haiti. After Hurricane Katrina, Medweb provided support to Touro Hospital in New Orleans.