GIC HIMSS Advocacy Updates: April 2020

By Charlie Hart (Advocacy Chair)

What is advocacy in the context of GICHIMSS? To understand advocacy it helps to understand HIMSS vision and mission.

HIMSS Vision: To realize the full health potential of every human, everywhere.

HIMSS Mission: Reform the global health ecosystem through the power of information and technology.

To that end, our job is to advocate on behalf of our organization and community about issues important to furthering health information and technology policy and ensure state government officials are aware of our members’ qualification as a health information and technology subject matter expert.

COVID-19 HIMSS Advocacy 

If you have checked HIMSS advocacy activity you will quickly notice that the action we have pushed for over the past 18 months is front and center with the public health response to COVID-19. The CONNECT act of 2019 was a comprehensive bipartisan, bicameral legislation makes critical and thoughtful reforms to the Medicare program by expanding access to evidence-based telehealth services to better meet the diverse needs of Medicare beneficiaries. Most of the actions to relax telehealth restrictions can be found in our initial recommendations.

In 2019 HIMSS virtual march for HIT week was Data: Elemental to Health Campaign to secure a commitment from Congress to modernize public health data systems. Our chapter was the most active HIMSS chapter to participate in the virtual march. $50 million dollars was secure for modernizing public health data systems. As part of the COVID-19 CARES act an additional 500 million was appropriated. Again HIMSS was front and center in calling out the need for robust public health IT infrastructure long before the crisis and we were ready to go with recommendations when our congressional and executive partners were at the table.

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HIMSS Submits public comment Letter on 21st Centure Cures Act:

HIMSS offered feedback that focused on leveraging ideas from the 21st Century Cures Act that seek to put our health system and stakeholders on a path to transform healthcare. We fully support the efforts from across the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to provide patients with secure access to actionable information and sets a course for a healthcare paradigm that takes full advantage of the promise of standards-based application programming interface (API) technology.

HIMSS voiced support, at a high level, for the Information Blocking Exceptions in the proposed regulation, as they identify the appropriate categories that will help inform the community as well as define sharing boundaries and expectations that will lead to greater information exchange. Themes from the Information Blocking Exceptions all bolster ONC’s approach: implemented in a consistent and non-discriminatory manner; reasonably related and uniformly applied; and, based on objective and verifiable criteria.

Grassroots Call to Action! - 

Ever wonder who your federal, state and local representatives are? HIMSS advocacy can help. We have a useful site that can tell you, all you need is your zip code.

Who are your representatives?

HIMSS Advocacy

HIMSS Advocacy and Public Policy Center 
HIMSS mobilizes its members and other collaborators to successfully accomplish multiple levels of advocacy activities that are fueled by its members’ passion and experience. These activities include educating HIMSS members and Members of Congress and their staff on key issues to actually proposing and writing draft legislation. In addition, HIMSS works closely with key federal and state level decision-makers to advance improvements in the quality, safety and efficiency of healthcare.

HIMSS Federal Affairs Center 
HIMSS Federal Affairs team leverages member and staff subject matter expertise to provide insight to key federal agency representatives, while promoting agency personnel involvement in HIMSS activities at the local, regional and national levels. 

Government Relations Team

The HIMSS Government Relations team is pleased to address your government relations questions and to assist our members during their trips to Washington, DC.

HIMSS Chapter Advocacy Program

With over 50 chapters in the United States, one of HIMSS’ many strengths is connecting HIMSS members with state, regional and national decision-makers on key health IT issues. HIMSS’ Chapter Advocacy program provides an opportunity for each HIMSS chapter to elect or appoint one or more members to serve in the Chapter Board level position as Chapter Advocate. Chapter Advocates and other volunteers interested in state level advocacy participate collectively in the Chapter Advocacy Roundtable (CAR). 

The CAR provides a networking and educational opportunity for Chapter Advocates to promote chapter level advocacy programs at the grassroots level in coordination with the HIMSS advocacy and public policy Board-approved agenda. Throughout the United States today, over 60 HIMSS Chapter Advocates are actively engaging state legislators through planning and facilitating advocacy outreach campaigns alongside their local chapters. 

What does it mean to be a Chapter Advocate? 
To advocate on behalf of your organization and community about issues important to furthering health IT policy and ensure state government officials are aware of your qualification as a health IT subject matter expert.

At the state and local levels, chapters will need to clearly define the role of the Chapter Advocacy Roundtable Member. The conduct of this role will vary among the states based on local membership and volunteer capabilities. The HIMSS State Government Affairs team will work with each Chapter to develop this position and will support the Chapter Advocacy Roundtable in a number of ways. The responsibilities of this role should minimally include:

  • Act as your Chapter’s connection to state level advocacy and keep members of your Board informed about campaign efforts 
  • Create an advocacy action plan specific to your community 
  • Recruit Chapter volunteers and other community leaders to join the campaign 
  • Plan a State Health IT/Advocacy Day to lead the chapter in developing and maintaining relationships with state elected officials
  • Attend or designate a chapter representative to sit in on monthly calls, quarterly regional calls and advocacy workshops to discuss current advocacy initiatives and provide feedback from local efforts
  • Attend or send a chapter representative to the annual HIMSS CAR Offsite Training held during HIMSS Policy Summit in Washington D.C.