Recognizing Leadership During NHIT Week

In Washington, D.C. on Wednesday evening, more than 300 guests celebrated National Health IT (NHIT) Week and honored four elected officials for their leadership. Each year during NHIT Week, HIMSS awards three sets of public service with awards for outstanding leadership. These awards recognize federal leaders, Congressional, and State legislators, who have made significant contributions to the advancement of health IT to improve healthcare, meriting national recognition.

Please join us in celebrating this year’s National Health IT Week Awardees:

Federal Health IT Leadership Award

Vice Admiral Raquel C. Bono, Director, Defense Health Agency

Vice Adm. Raquel C. Bono leads a joint, integrated Combat Support Agency enabling the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps medical services to provide a medically-ready force to Combatant Commands, in both peacetime and wartime. In support of an integrated, affordable and high-quality military health service, the DHA directs the execution of ten joint shared services to include the health plan (TRICARE), pharmacy, health Information Technology, research & acquisition, education & training, public health, medical logistics, facility management, budget resource management, and contracting. The DHA administers the TRICARE Health Plan providing worldwide medical, dental and pharmacy programs to more than 9.4 million uniformed service members, retirees and their families.

In addition to being a diplomat of the American Board of Surgery, Vice Adm. Bono is a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons and has an Executive MBA from the Carson College of Business at Washington State University. Her personal decorations include Defense Superior Service Medal (three), Legion of Merit Medal (four), Meritorious Service Medal (two), and the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation medal (two).

Vice Admiral Bono has been a frequent speaker at several HIMSS events, including the Annual Conference. She has also worked extensively with HIMSS to keep our members updated on the implementation of MHS GENESIS. Her interest in keeping the community informed about DHA’s efforts in healthcare transformation has led her to utilize HIMSS as a key resource for broader community outreach.

Congressional Health IT Leadership Awards

Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Senator Brian Schatz (D-HI)

Senator Orrin Hatch is the most senior Republican in the U.S. Senate and is Chairman of the influential Senate Committee on Finance, which has jurisdiction over a number of health programs under the Social Security Act including Medicare, Medicaid, the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP), Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) and other health and human services programs. Senator Hatch is also a member (and former Chairman) of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee. Senator Hatch has a long track record of championing healthcare and health IT issues on Capitol Hill.

Senator Hatch is a founding member and co-chair of the bipartisan Senate Finance Committee Chronic Care Working Group. This work group was formed to explore potential policies to improve care and lower costs for Medicare beneficiaries with chronic conditions. Based on a policy options document released by the workgroup, Senator Hatch along with the other co-chairs of the work group jointly introduced the Creating High-Quality Results and Outcomes Necessary to Improve Chronic (CHRONIC) Care Act of 2017. Included in the bill are a number of provisions that would enable greater use of telehealth services under Medicare, such as expanding the use of telehealth for stroke patients, and providing greater flexibility for accountable care organizations and Medicare Advantage enrollees to utilize telehealth. HIMSS worked closely with Senator Hatch’s office and the Working Group to provide feedback and suggested legislative language on the CHRONIC Care Act. Under the Chairman’s leadership, the Senate Finance Committee unanimously approved the CHRONIC Care Act.

Senator Hatch was also the lead sponsor, along with Senator Schatz, of the Expanding Capacity for Health Outcomes (ECHO) Act, which was signed into law December 2016. In addition, Senator Hatch played an integral role in the development of the health IT provisions of the 21st Century Cures Act, including working in a bipartisan way to advance a GAO study on patient data matching, a long-time policy priority for HIMSS.

In addition to his work on Capitol Hill, Senator Hatch has a history of activity and engagement with HIMSS. He spoke during the 2016 Utah HIMSS Chapter Fall Kick-off Luncheon and Stuart Portman, his Senior Healthcare Legislative Assistant, attended HIMSS17, and participated on our Congressional Staff Forum panel.


Senator Brian Schatz is a member of the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee, where he serves as Ranking Member of the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Subcommittee, and sits on the Labor-HHS Subcommittee. This committee is responsible for drafting legislation to allocate federal funds to government agencies and departments, including key health care and health IT spending.

In addition, he is a member of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, where he serves as Ranking Member of the Communications, Technology, Innovation, and the Internet Subcommittee. This committee has jurisdiction over telecommunications and technology issues. During his time in the Senate, Senator Schatz has been a leading voice on telehealth and rural broadband policy issues. He was the lead sponsor of the bipartisan CONNECT for Health Act, and worked very closely with HIMSS during the drafting of this comprehensive, bipartisan legislation. He continued to collaborate with HIMSS as the legislation was updated during the 115th Congress, and HIMSS participated in a Capitol Hill advocacy day in support of the CONNECT for Health Act organized by his office.

Senator Schatz was also the lead sponsor, along with Senator Hatch, of the bipartisan Expanding Capacity for Health Outcomes (ECHO) Act, which was signed into law December 2016. Additionally, he has sponsored or cosponsored key legislation including the CHRONIC Care Act, the Reaching Underserved Rural Areas to Lead (RURAL) Telehealth Act, and the FAST Act, among others. Dr. Aimee Grace, his Health Policy Adviser, attended HIMSS16 and HIMSS17, and participated on our Congressional Staff Forum panel. She also participated on our 2015 Public Policy Summit Congressional staff panel.

State Official of the Year Award

California State Senator, Ed Hernandez, O.D. (D-22 District)

Dr. Hernandez is an optometrist and local businessman, first elected to the California Assembly in November of 2006. As Chair of the Senate Health Committee, he has been instrumental in ensuring California’s national leadership in health care. Senator Hernandez has overseen the implementation of the Affordable Care Act and the Medicaid expansion to guarantee healthcare for millions of people in California. As the Senate Health leader, he has had the unique opportunity to shape and drive legislation dealing with health information technology, especially as a means to provide access to care for those lacking quality care.

His dedication to health IT is demonstrated by his participation in the HIMSS California State HIT Event; Senator Hernandez not only personally participated in prior events, he also sent his Chief of Staff to speak to our members and welcomed us to his office to discuss the health IT legislation both California Chapters advocated for.

These include:

AB 40 - Support Secure Practitioner Access to CURES Database by expanding access to and utilization of the CURES database by enabling integration with practitioner IT systems and simplifying review of the data during their normal clinical workflow; and

AB 401 - Support Greater Access to Pharmacists by removing barriers to healthcare services provided by authorizing a remote dispensing site pharmacy to use a tele-pharmacy system.

Senator Hernandez has been the leader on healthcare issues and a strong champion for health IT in California since he was elected to the Assembly in 2006 and then to the Senate in 2010. He has a record of pursuing a legislative agenda that provides access to quality and affordable health care and that elevates the value of health IT.


HIMSS congratulates the 2017 National Health IT Week Awardees, and applauds them for their dedication to the transformation of health through information and technology. 




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