New York State Implements Web-Based Tracking System for Patient Evacuations in Emergencies

New York State is putting technology to good use by employing a web-based tracking system for the most vulnerable citizens during a disaster.

A recent demonstration at a Manhattan hospital tested the State’s new technology, called Evacuation of Facilities in Disasters System (e-Finds). Created by the New York State Office of Information Technology Services (ITS), e-Finds involves the use of pre-printed wristbands that feature bar codes and identifying numbers. Through the use of a handheld scanner and a mobile app, emergency personnel can track patients in real-time during the event of an evacuation.

The NYS Ready and Respond Commissions, an organization of Governor Andrew Cuomo’s, originally requested such an idea, thereby making the concept a priority.

How the System Works

During an evacuation, health facilities will fit e-Find bracelets on all patients and residents. All bracelets will have already been entered into the Health Commerce System using a scanner connected to a computer, with users entering basic patient information. Although the technology may become a crucial tool for mass evacuations, the amount of time a facility may have during an evacuation may ultimately determine whether the system could be used.

When the patient arrives at the pre-determined evacuation destination, their bracelets can then be scanned into the Health Commerce System, thereby allowing all evacuation personnel and family members to learn of their location. The system may also be used to directly communicate the information to a patient’s loved ones.

The Creation of the Tracking System

Officials are excited about this new technology, as there were countless problems tracking patients during Hurricane Sandy.

The app, which is available on all iPhone, iPad, and Android devices, came at a cost of just $1.1 million, which does not include staff time. Because the system was developed with existing technology, the amount of time it took to get it up and running and the low cost were reduced. The system will be used in state hospitals, nursing homes, adult care facilities, residential treatment programs, supporting housing facilities, and developmental centers.