On Feb. 16, HIMSS and 11 co-signing organizations submitted a letter thanking the Biden Administration for its COVID-19 related efforts thus far and offering recommendations on how to improve national COVID-19 vaccine distribution and administration by maximizing the use of information and technology.
In addition to HIMSS, the letter is signed by the following organizations:
These organizations collectively pledged their support to work with the White House, the COVID-19 Task Force and the leadership at the Department of Health and Human Services to advance the nation’s approach to addressing the pandemic.
HIMSS and fellow stakeholders propose nationally defined and adopted reporting specifications and standards to be met by states, localities and all health system stakeholders, as well as simplifying report submissions using an approach where data is submitted once and shared broadly across all authorized stakeholders.
HIMSS recommends exploring the continued and potentially additional temporary use of regulatory flexibilities to reduce burden related to vaccination-related processes while creating a robust preparedness program that utilizes health information and technology fully conformant under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996.
As the signed organizations bring a significant number of key stakeholders to this vaccination effort, there are opportunities to involve additional groups and better leverage existing infrastructure in these broader distribution challenges. We want to work with the federal government to enable a bi-directional exchange of immunization information systems (IIS) information back to electronic health records (EHRs) to support broader vaccination and surveillance initiatives. Health Information Exchanges (HIE) could also play a significant role where these IIS-EHR connections are not already in place, and lining up interoperability standards and connectivity to serve this goal would be the first step.
Given the importance of IIS to the broader national response, the signed organizations recommend the Biden Administration work with stakeholders to create a national IIS policy framework that defines a minimum data set and provides guidance about the structure of IIS and their reporting requirements. We also recommended the federal government mandate that all vaccination administration sites report data to IIS and query data from IIS, adhering to existing standards and standardized reporting protocols.
The federal government should partner with relevant stakeholders on launching a joint communications strategy that ensures individuals have greater access to accurate COVID-19 vaccination information through the use of mobile applications and other digital technologies as well as communication mediums.
The Biden Administration, in coordination with technology developers, is encouraged to begin development of standards and exchange requirements to enable individuals to digitally verify their vaccination status.
The organizations ask the Biden Administration to support research to study the effectiveness of the tools and technologies that have been adopted and propagated across the ecosystem to tackle COVID-19 vaccinations and how to use this information to prepare and respond to future public health emergencies.
The success of the nationwide response to COVID-19 and vaccination distribution and administration hinges on accurate information and patient identification. The signed organizations plan to continue working with Congress to remove the ban on unique patient identifiers so our community can move forward with developing a National Patient Identification Strategy.
HIMSS and the co-signers of the letter look forward to continuing to work with the Biden Administration in maximizing the role of health information and technology in the COVID-19 vaccine rollout. See the full letter to the Biden Administration.
The HIMSS policy team works closely with the U.S. Congress, federal decision makers, state legislatures and governments, and other organizations to recommend policy, and legislative and regulatory solutions to improve health through information and technology.