It is one of our favorite times of the year; National Health IT Week! Kicking off on October 4th, it is a week filled with events, panels, webinars, and activities surrounding healthcare information technology. One of the events includes the annual Health Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) Public Policy Summit. The “Congressional Asks” are a part of the summit each year in which a group of HIMSS volunteers compiles a list of priority recommendations for U.S. Congress. Participants will head to Capitol Hill on to present this year’s top three priorities to Congress.
The cog in the wheel of health IT is interoperability and data exchange. HIMSS’ first recommendation to Congress is to “Support Robust Interoperability and Health Information Exchange.” Without stringent testing for interoperability standards to ensure that EHRs and HIEs are consistent, there is no guarantee that data exchange can be optimized. HIMSS goal is patient matching data across multiple care scenarios—including Federal and state agencies— be a seamless experience not a challenge through silos of algorithms and languages.
“At Get Real Health we are happy to see the focus on interoperability so that patients are also able to get data seamlessly when, where and how they want it,” said Christina Caraballo, Senior Healthcare Strategist for Get Real Health. “The need for interoperability is only going to increase, as patients start demanding their health data in an understandable format that flows into consumer friendly technology of their choice.”
As their second recommendation to Congress, HIMSS’ seeks to “Support Healthcare’s Efforts to Combat Cyber Threats.” The country is plagued by Cyber threats across all facets of the business landscape. Healthcare providers and organizations must be equipped to defend against growing cyber threats using a consistent and effectively-implemented data security framework. HIMSS recommends a joint effort between US Health and Human Services and the National Institute of Standards and Technology to research and identify best practices and infrastructure to ensure all health data is secure.
As their third and final recommendation to Congress, HIMSS proposes to “Expand Access to Telehealth Services for Medicare Beneficiaries” HIMSS is urging Congress to amend current law, and take steps to require CMS to remove barriers to deployment to underserved populations, encourage broader types of technologies, allow for Telehealth reimbursements and ultimately improving access and quality, and reduce cost.
“The industry focus on telehealth is really exciting,” said Caraballo. “We see it as the next stage of consumer engagement and a way of reaching a broader spectrum of patients to help improve their health.”
As a partner in National Health IT Week, Get Real Health will be following the Congressional response to these important “Congressional Asks.” Stay updated with @GetReal_Health on twitter throughout #NHITWeek!