National Health IT Week (NHIT Week), October 8-12, is a nationwide awareness week focused on catalyzing actionable change within the U.S. health system through the application of information and technology. Virtually, in Washington DC and beyond, NHIT Week stakeholders collaborate towards actionable outcomes which demonstrate the power information and technology has to transform health in the U.S., and its wide-reaching global impact.
As vice president of government relations at HIMSS, I actively participate in crucial conversations regarding U.S. health IT policy and regulations on a regular basis. 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 is one example of an idea I had the pleasure of helping evolve into an actionable initiative. In 2006, HIMSS and several partners founded U.S. NHIT Week. Steve Lieber, then HIMSS president and CEO of HIMSS, 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 information and technology’s value.
Over the years, the conversation has evolved from the promise of the technology to the use of data to give consumers, caregivers, and providers meaningful insight into proactive care options. We are experiencing great breakthroughs in consumer engagement that will have an enormous impact on care coordination across communities.
Elected officials have participated in crucial conversations about health IT more and more since U.S. NHIT Week’s implementation in 2006, as it has served as an outstanding vehicle to drive efforts in improving health information and technology. 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!
Nearly 45,000 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. HIMSS’s voice is important to elected officials because we take a realistic approach to implementing policy. We formulate our congressional 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 and provide reasonable requests with real-world evidence to support it, with the help of our dedicated members from the various communities and committees within HIMSS.
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. This year’s points of engagements include supporting healthcare transformation (as we always do!), expanding access to quality healthcare, increasing economic opportunity and making communities healthier. We also anticipate substantive conversations about cybersecurity, health IT solutions to the substance abuse crisis, the march toward value driven care, and advancements in immunization integration.
We have many public policy milestones to celebrate during NHIT Week 2018, and we’re already gaining momentum on milestones for 2019. Help us celebrate NHIT Week by sharing your voice on the value and power of health IT to truly support healthcare transformation! #NHITweek
Healthcare Transformation | Access to Care | Economic Opportunity | Healthy Communities
Share your story, provide insights and help develop healthcare policy during NHIT Week – focused on catalyzing actionable change within the U.S. health system through the effective use of health IT.
View this year’s calendar of events
Explore this guide on supporting #NHITWeek through social media
Submit an #IHeartHIT Story
Participate in the Virtual March
Explore 10 ways to celebrate in your hometown
See the 2018 NHIT Week partners list, and sign up today
Originally published September 28, 2017, updated October 8, 2018