NHITweek: HIMSS posts 3 Congressional asks for 2017

Telehealth, infrastructure modernization and a cyber exec for HHS. They’re all on this year’s list.
By Tom Sullivan
05:00 PM
Health IT Week

HIMSS on Wednesday unveiled its annual ‘Congressional Asks’ during National Health IT Week — and this time around they tackle cybersecurity, telehealth and critical infrastructure modernization.

“Health IT policy is always evolving and we’ve certainly seen some important bipartisan advances on key issues, including passage of the CHRONIC Care Act in the Senate, movement on multiple telehealth bills in the House Energy and Commerce Committee and significant focus on healthcare cyber,” said Samantha Burch, Senior Director of Congressional Affairs at HIMSS.

The first ask is for Congress to empower the Health and Human Services chief information security office to the same rank as HHS CIO and, in so doing, require the CISO to create sector-specific plans, goals and priorities for cybersecurity, such as advance threat intelligence sharing, enhance workforce education, expand the cyber talent pool and focus on holistic security.

HIMSS second ask: Pass the CONNECT for Health Act of 2017. Burch said that reintroduction of the bipartisan, bicameral CONNECT for Health Act is a signal of health IT momentum in Congress and the understanding that the government must work to modernize Medicare to make care access easier via innovative technologies, telehealth among those.

Speaking of modernization, the third HIMSS ask is that Congress invest in infrastructure to support 21st century healthcare. “There’s widespread, bipartisan agreement that our critical infrastructure needs investment and modernization,” Burch said. She pointed to broadband that supports telehealth and other technological advances, public health surveillance and the public health workforce as specific areas in need of investment.

“Our goal is always to select topics that are actionable, relevant and impactful and to the extent possible and build off past successes to continue to move the ball forward on key issues,” Burch said.

Twitter: SullyHIT
Email the writer: tom.sullivan@himssmedia.com