As vice president of government relations at HIMSS, I participate every single day in crucial conversations regarding health IT policy and regulations. Despite the ever-changing nature of health IT, one constant remains and drives my work each day: the gratification of watching an idea evolve into action.
Strong ideas drive productive discussions, which then provide the framework for implementing actionable initiatives. Those initiatives lead to the transformative changes in health IT that we are so passionate about at HIMSS.
National Health IT Week: from an idea to an initiative
National Health IT Week is one example of an idea I had the pleasure of helping evolve into an actionable initiative. In 2006, HIMSS and several partners founded NHIT Week. Steve Lieber, then HIMSS president and CEO, strongly encouraged the development of NHIT Week after observing the many different events taking place in health IT that deserved recognition. Our objectives were expanding dialogue on health IT advancement, while also educating policy makers and people with interest in healthcare.
Getting NHIT Week rolling was a long and ongoing effort for HIMSS and our many partners. It took time to grow momentum. In early years, we focused efforts on bringing together as many people as possible in Washington, DC. They would then speak to Members of Congress, Senators and staff about the benefits of health IT, and explain the importance of nationwide recognition of health IT’s value.
Why do elected officials listen to HIMSS?
Elected officials have participated in crucial conversations about health IT more and more since NHIT Week’s implementation in 2006. NHIT Week has served as an outstanding vehicle to drive efforts in improving health IT. It also has helped us to continue more frequent and active discussions with elected officials.
So what makes us different? Why do elected officials listen to HIMSS?
To start, I’ll state the obvious: there are so many of us committed to the advancement of health IT; our collective voice is impassioned!
Over 40,000 people come to our annual conference each year to learn how health IT can empower healthcare. The people are listening, and we have policy makers listening to the positive impact health IT can have on healthcare transformation, as a result.
HIMSS approaches public policy with a strong sense of practicality: we know what we’re asking for isn’t an impossible feat.
Health IT’s voice is important to elected officials, because we take a realistic approach to implementing policy. We formulate our congressional ‘asks’ and dialogue based on healthcare community experience in a variety of settings – from big cities to small rural areas.
Elected officials listen to HIMSS because
• we are inclusive to all citizens with healthcare,
• we are reasonable in our requests, and
• we never stray away from our organization’s core values.
HIMSS and NHIT Week’s Connected Values
NHIT Week’s values carefully align with HIMSS’s by recognizing the importance of expanded access to quality care and identifying increased economic opportunities that are available through health IT.
This year, we’ve represented those values in a number of ways. Congress, state officials, and the Trump Administration are interested in
• creating jobs
• ensuring health information is secure, and
• ensuring a broad range of technology solutions are available to everyone.
We have many public policy milestones to celebrate during NHIT Week 2017, and we’re already gaining momentum on milestones for 2018. Help us celebrate NHIT Week by sharing your voice on the value and power of health IT to truly support healthcare transformation! #NHITweek