emPOWER Map to Detect Outages

The HHS “emPOWER Map” www.phe.gov/empowermap/Pages/default.aspx, an interactive online tool sponsored by the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR) www.phe.gov/preparedness/Pages/default.aspx and developed with CMS www.cms.gov is going to aid community health agencies and emergency management officials in disaster preparedness.

More than 1.6 million Medicare fee-for-service beneficiaries nationwide rely on electricity-dependent medical and assistive equipment such as oxygen concentrators, ventilators, and wheelchairs. This tool will help officials plan ahead to help community residents who rely on electrically powered medical and assistive equipment to live independently at home.

The emPOWER Map shows the monthly total number of Medicare fee-for-service beneficiaries’ claims for electricity dependent equipment at the national, state, territory, county, and zip code levels. The tool incorporates the data with real time severe weather tracking services available from the National oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in a Geographic Information system (GIS).

The integrated data accessible through the emPOWER Map can help community organizations, including hospitals, first responders, and electric utility officials, work with health officials to prevent health impacts from prolonged power outages due to storms and other disasters.

For example, the map could be used by electric utility companies to determine priority areas to restore electrical service based on the location of the largest concentrations of electricity dependent individuals. The map could assist hospitals, healthcare coalitions, and emergency medical services in doing a better job to plan for surges in services.

Emergency planners could also use the tool to anticipate whether emergency shelters might experience greater electricity demand due to higher concentrations of electricity dependent Medicare beneficiaries nearby. Local officials could estimate more accurate assistance needs for transportation and evacuation when local mass transit systems are affected by prolonged power outages after disasters.

ASPR is also advancing equipment signaling technology to remotely monitor the status of a critical medical device’s back-up battery power in the event of a prolonged power outages.

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