National Health IT week to draw hundreds
National Health IT Week, now in its eighth year, should continue to be a big success in helping to educate Congress and the public on the importance of health IT, said a group of HIMSS officials at a webinar on Wednesday.
Tom Leary, vice president of government relations at HIMSS, said the nationally recognized week is all about advocating, not about lobbying. This is done through leveraging internal staff, HIMSS membership and various resources, he said.
This year’s National Health IT Week, to be held Sept. 16th to the 20th, already has 300 organizations sponsoring the event, Leary said. The event will bring together organizations from across the country to highlight how health IT can support healthcare transformation.
"We’re really excited about this year," said Elinore Boeke, HIMSS’ senior manager of public policy communications. This year, HIMSS has issued a toolkit explaining how members and other interested parties can get involved in the event, both in their local communities and in Washington. The opportunities range from something as simple as publishing a notice of the event in an organization’s newsletter, to conducting a site visit or holding a press conference, Boeke said.
"Another easy way to show your enthusiasm for health IT is through social media," Boeke added.
During National Health IT Week, "talk both online and offline about the value of health IT," Boeke encouraged. "Share your stories, share your successes, share your challenges with others. Get the conversation going."
Boeke said there's also a new logo organizations can use on their websites and on social media, available in the toolkit. Also, on Twitter, individuals can use #NHITweek to highlight discussion about the event.
Martha Dameron, chair of HIMSS Public Policy Committee, urged stakeholders to come to Washington, DC for the HIMSS Policy Summit, to be held Sept. 18th to the 19th at the Hyatt Regency.
"We hope will be able to join us," Dameron said, adding that 260 individuals attended last year. The agenda for this year’s event is posted online at HIMSS.org and is updated regularly. Attendees will join together to discuss priority issues among the health IT community and to meet with their elected officials and staff. Dameron said the event always teaches attendees "something new." The event concludes with a reception and an awards ceremony.
Richard M. Hodge, senior director of congressional affairs for HIMSS, outlined the "three asks" that attendees will be taking to Capitol Hill in advocacy efforts. The asks have been carefully formulated to help educate members of congress and staffers, who may know very little about health IT, while at the same time staying consistent with HIMSS public policy principles.
"HIMSS’ congressional asks are three top priority issues that are selected through a robust process," Hodge said, beginning with a dialogue in April that goes all the way to August. The asks have to be topics that Congress has the ability to direct through legislative action. "They may seem mundane to us, but we want to build that common understanding level," said Hodge.
This year, HIMSS is asking congress to focus on:
- consistent nationwide patient data;
- the alignment of healthcare quality;
- and consistent adoption of health IT.
"The important thing is that patient data matching is a critical patient safety issue; it’s a major cost issue and it’s a major interoperability issue," Hodge said. "We can never as an industry or as a nation respond to the challenge which has been laid down to achieve interoperability safely and securely until we finally address this issue of patient data matching."