If you somehow missed it in the news cycle of the past couple of weeks, September 11-17 was National Health Information Technology Week. Yup, it’s a real thing…..thanks to the President, who signed a proclamation, and the Senate, which unanimously passed a resolution. It even has its own hashtag: #NHITWeek (of course, so does anything you can type). This year, HIMSS, ONC and others hosted a packed schedule of events with a focus on consumer (patient) engagement, care coordination, and of course, Meaningful Use of EHR.
HHS kicked off the week with what can only be described as an HIT pep rally, complete with its own cheer of “Put the ‘I’ in Health IT!” (Never mind it’s already there!) In an effort to better engage patients/consumers, the ONC introduced a pledge to instill a sense of ownership and responsibility about maintaining health information and leveraging technology to improve health care for everyone. Next year, I just might bring pom-poms.
That day, athenahealth usability team members Lauren Zack and Trisha Flanagan joined me on Capitol Hill to participate in a panel on HIT and patient safety sponsored by the Institute for e-Health Policy. The panel was timely because a few of us are waiting for the soon-to-be-released Institute of Medicine (IOM) study on the impact of HIT on the delivery of health care commissioned by HHS.
During the panel discussion, Lauren recommended that usability and patient safety should be integral to software development and not just after-the-fact concepts. Her points were well-received. Watch a video of the event here.
One of my favorite events was a roundtable hosted by the National Health IT Collaborative for the Underserved on "Vulnerable Populations and HIT" (“vulnerable” is shorthand for “rural, underserved, disparate, and minority communities”). The White House has made the reduction of health care disparities a top priority and the 30 to 40 folks in attendance were gathered to comment on the Federal Strategic Plan to Reduce Health IT Disparities. The wide range of perspective included leaders from telecommunications, HHS/ONC, education, research, and large health systems. There was even a librarian. The great variety of participants generated a comprehensive discussion about workforce, HIT infrastructure, culture and more. As a vendor that has deployed expertise and services to doctor’s offices all over the country for over a decade, it was refreshing to see the room excited about leveraging Internet access and cloud technologies to solve a major problem.
So that was HIT Week. October is already off to a busy start and I’m back in D.C. If you’re here on Wednesday the 5th, our CEO Jonathan Bush will be presenting on a Capitol Hill panel about the use of data to transform health care. You can sign up here. And I’ll be participating in an HIT Policy Committee Meaningful Use workgroup public hearing on the same day with our CTO, Jeremy Delinsky. We will talk about Stage 3 objectives from the vendor perspective.
Stay tuned for more dispatches from inside the Beltway, including some tweets and maybe a blog post from Wednesday.