Scott RE, NT Consulting – Global e-Health Inc, Calgary, Alberta, Canada; University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta, Canada
Background. Some literature shows natural and anthropogenic disasters are increasing in frequency and severity. Some shows an increase in attention to disaster preparedness. Other literature shows e-health to be a flexible and viable tool in handling healthcare needs – including in disasters. How can we bring these two worlds - e-Health and Disaster Management - together in a meaningful and mutually beneficial way? This study scans the literature for evidence relating to e-Health in Disaster Managementand to collaboration between the two fields, and then extracts lessons relevant to developing collaboration between the two disciplines.
Methods. Searches of PubMed and Google Scholar (first 100 hits). Search strings were: ((e-Health or Telemedicine OR Telehealth) AND (Disaster Management OR Disaster)), and Collaboration AND ((e-Health or Telemedicine OR Telehealth) AND (Disaster Management OR Disaster)).
Results.A total of 85 (from 428) unique resources linked e-Health with Disaster Management, while only 3 (from 133) related collaboration with e-Health and Disaster Management. Since 1986 there is good evidence demonstrating application of various e-Health solutions to disaster management. In contrast, there is no evidence of any systematic process for developing informed and productive relationships between the fields of e-Health and Disaster Management.
Conclusion. e-Health has been used minimally in disaster response, and globally is seldom considered in Disaster Management planning, yet it could contribute at each stage of the disaster management cycle.Disaster Management is complex, involving international, national, sub-national, and local governments, organisations, and businesses, and every member of the ‘local’ (affected or responding) community. Collaboration is essential. The e-health community must actively engage with the disaster community to raise awareness and understanding, and to develop and embed e-Health within Disaster Management. Specific recommendations will be made as to a way forward, for which those in the e-Health field must take responsibility for action.