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NHIT Week 2017—What’s Next?

What a successful week NHIT Week was.

We honored elected officials during our NHIT Week Reception.

More than 535 partners and chapters held events across the nation joined us in demonstrating the value of health IT.

More than 300 members reached out to their local, state and federal officials during our virtual march.

HIMSS is a convener of this ongoing dialogue that speaks to achieving better health through the best use of information and technology. Every day, we hear and react to these conversations.

Now, at the close of NHIT Week, here is where we head next with our conversations on demonstrating the value of health IT.

Cybersecurity

Cybersecurity is a top concern for the health sector. To advance cyber readiness, Congress should ensure the health sector has a champion at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) that encourages stakeholders to be proactive and relentlessly vigilant about cybersecurity. Specifically, Congress should pass legislation that would elevate the HHS Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) as a peer of the HHS Chief Information Officer (CIO) and require the CISO’s responsibilities to include both internal and external portfolios, including responsibility for creating a sector-specific plan to establish goals and priorities for cybersecurity.

Telehealth

Telehealth services, and the technologies that support them, have the potential to expand access to high-quality care for patients in underserved communities (both urban and rural), address provider shortages, facilitate proactive disease prevention and chronic care management, and improve patient and provider satisfaction. However, current law prevents the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services from reimbursing most providers and health systems for telehealth services and remote patient monitoring (RPM).

Congress should take action to modernize the Medicare program by removing barriers to the use of telehealth and other innovative healthcare technologies, such as RPM. Specifically, Congress should pass the CONNECT for Health Act of 2017 (H.R. 2556 and S. 1016).

Infrastructure 

There’s widespread agreement that much of our nation’s infrastructure is in need of investment and modernization. Our public health and healthcare critical infrastructure sector is no exception. Congress should continue to support broadband deployment, particularly for the provision of vital rural healthcare services by modernizing the Federal Communication Commission’s Rural Health Care Program, which supports discounted high-capacity broadband connectivity and broadband networks for eligible healthcare providers. Congress should also adopt the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Vision for Public Health Surveillance in the 21st Century as the foundation of infrastructure investment in bidirectional, electronic information flow between the public health and provider communities.

Please join the many voices - including mine - in this developing dialogue to create a unified crescendo that demonstrates the value of health IT beyond NHIT Week.

Together we are stronger, our voices louder, and the synergy of our actions more powerful. Together we can continue to transform health through information and technology.

Keywords: 
#NHITWeek; #GovHIT; #HITWorks; #WomeninHIT