Electronic Medical Records for Cruise Ship Passengers

Cruise ships have been in the news a lot lately – and most of the news has not been good. That's too bad, because I love cruising. I've been on multiple Carnival cruise line trips to the Caribbean and to the Mediterranean and have enjoyed them all. My latest cruise was a 2 week voyage on a Princess line cruise ship from Miami, through the Panama Canal, to Los Angeles. It was great.

However, when I was on my last cruise, I wondered if cruise ships have ever considered using some form of electronic medical record (EMR) system. It could come in very handy, especially the next time there is a disaster at sea – e.g. sinking ship, fire on board, breakdown at sea,  outbreak of disease, or... 

Because I never had to avail myself of any medical services on a cruise ship, I was unsure what type of EMR systems they might be using – if any.  Fortunately, a quick scan of the literature indicates that most cruise lines have already taken steps to acquire and implement EMR systems as well as other state of the art eHealth and Telemedicine solutions.

For example, according to Modern Healthcare, perhaps one of the earliest EHR vendor to recognize the market opportunity in the cruise ship industry is Arlington, Texas-based Emergisoft.  See http://www.modernhealthcare.com/article/20110509/MAGAZINE/110509984

Several years ago, Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. (RCL) selected the eSeaCare Electronic Health Platform from IOS Health Systems as their fleet-wide electronic health record system for ships of the Azamara Club Cruises, Celebrity Cruises, and the Royal Caribbean International brands. See http://www.ehrscope.com/blog/royal-caribbean-cruises-ltd-and-ios-health-systems-new-partnership/ 

I know I feel a bit better knowing that the cruise lines have been proactive about acquiring and implementing EMR systems. Though, I don't remember every sending in any health information to them for inclusion in whatever records they may have set up for me as a passenger. Puzzling. Have they achieved 'meaningful use' of their systems?

That aside, for any of the smaller cruise lines that have not yet acquired an EMR system, they should get cracking. If cost is an issue, certainly one of the open source EMR systems might be a good choice, e.g. OpenEMR, OpenMRS, VistA.