Tohoku J. Exp. Med., 2021 November, 255(3)

Editorial: Review Series in Disaster Medicine

Use of Medical Information and Digital Services for Self-Empowerment before, during, and after a Major Disaster

Susumu Fujii,1 Sayuri Nonaka1 and Masaharu Nakayama1,2

1Disaster Medical Informatics Lab, International Research Institute of Disaster Science (IRIDeS), Tohoku University, Sendai, Miyagi, Japan
2Department of Medical Informatics, Tohoku University School of Medicine, Sendai, Miyagi, Japan

Disaster response procedures have been developed and improved following the Great East Japan Earthquake. Innovative services have also been created through digital transformation, including an acceleration and deepening of artificial intelligence technology. Things that were once technically impossible are now possible. These innovative technologies will spread across various fields, and disaster response will not be an exception. The Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare is promoting the use of personal health records in a way that effectively supports the management of treatments by using data from wearable devices and specific applications. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the trade-off between protecting personal information and enabling social benefits, such as in the use of digital tracking, and infodemics, including misinformation, have become new social challenges. Reviewing past disaster preparedness and the services and value provided by digital transformation indicates what new disaster preparedness should be. Digital transformation does not require literacy (ability to collect, analyze, and use information) but competence (beneficial behavioral traits derived from experience). Understanding behavior through data and enabling rational behavior are crucial. By increasing human productivity, we can save time and improve self- and mutual-help in times of disaster. Medical information and digital services must be properly used in normal times. A society that uses such services will be more disaster resilient.

Keywords —— digital transformation; disaster medicine; Great East Japan Earthquake; medical informatics; personal health record


Tohoku J. Exp. Med 2021, 255, 183-194.

Correspondence: Susumu Fujii, Department of Disaster Medical Informatics, Tohoku University School of Medicine, 2-1 Seiryo-machi, Aoba-ku, Sendai, Miyagi 980-8575, Japan.