On Sept. 12, 2011, another first occurred in the ongoing healthcare transformation when President Barack Obama issued the first Presidential Proclamation proclaiming September 11 – 17, 2011, as National Health IT Week. To quote President Obama: “National Health Information Technology Week is a time to highlight the importance of efficient information systems that protect the privacy and security of personal health information while improving the delivery of health care in the United States.”
For the fourth year in a row, thanks to the bipartisan leadership of Senators Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and Olympia Snowe (R-ME), the U.S. Senate unanimously passed a resolution (S.Res.262) on Tuesday, Sept. 13, also supporting National Health IT Week. The National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL), National Association of State Chief Information Officers (NASCIO) and the State of Washington all issued proclamations to show their organization’s commitment to ensure health information technology is integrated, interactive, interoperable and intelligent to provide the best patient outcomes.
On Sept. 14 – 15, we hosted the 10th Annual HIMSS Policy Summit with 218 registered participants from 39 states and the District of Columbia who made over 428 scheduled Capitol Hill appointments with their members of Congress. National Coordinator for Health IT Dr. Farzad Mostashari welcomed attendees to the Policy Summit and charged us to continue the momentum. Rep. Michael Burgess (R-TX) served as our keynote speaker and discussed, from his perspective as a physician and policymaker, how important it is to improve the quality of healthcare in our nation.
From our Capitol Hill visits, we learned:
Issue #1 – Congress should continue its strong bipartisan support for Health Information Technology.
Response Percentage: Supports: 95%; Opposes: 0; No position: 5%
Issue #2 - Congress should preserve the investment being made in the Medicare and Medicaid Electronic Health Records Incentive Program.
Response Percentage: Supports: 89%; Opposes: 4%; No position: 7%
Issue #3 - Congress should support the development of a nationwide patient identity solution by lifting the current statutory prohibition, to allow HHS to address this issue along with other health IT policy enhancements.
Response Percentage: Supports: 58%; Opposes: 1%; No position: 41%
We are now capturing the Congressional visit comments and correlating the results for incorporation into our follow-up action plan. Our plan includes following up with the HIMSS volunteers and the Congressional offices.
So, National Health IT Week greatly helped continue the momentum on our national on-going transformation of health using information technology.
You can still help this effort by participating in HIMSS’ Virtual Outreach initiative. All you have to do is take a moment and send an electronic letter to your elected officials. By sending a letter to your Representative and Senators, you are showing them that health information technology is an issue that you care about and deserves the attention of Congress.
AND, IT’S EASY.
All you need is your zip code, and HIMSS’ Legislative Action Center will guide you through the rest, step by step. The whole process will take only a few minutes minutes, but it will have an tremendous impact.
Please let your members of Congress know of your interest in health IT issues by sending a letter today.
And for more on the health IT momentum, here’s a recent interview with iHealth Beat.