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As National Health IT Week kicked into gear in the nation's capital one year ago, mHIMSS was nothing more than a concept. Now it's a reality, and HIMSS officials associated with the mobile health chapter are eager to join the conversation.
"We weren't there last year at this time, but we're here now," said Patricia B. Wise, RN, MS, MA, HIMSS' vice president, who oversees mHIMSS from the corporate level. "mHIMSS needs to be recognized for the content it can deliver and as a thought leader as the nation moves forward in mobile adoption."
"Mobile (health) should be recognized as a key enabler. It should be recognized and embraced," added David Collins, MHA, CPHQ, CPHIMS, FHIMSS, senior director of mHIMSS.
The Seventh Annual National Health IT Week runs next week, from Sept. 10-14. A collaborative forum of public and private healthcare constituents, including industry and policy stakeholders, it features a wide variety of events in and around Washington, including summits, panel discussions, networking events and workshops, a job fair, a 5k run/walk challenge and blog and twitter events.
HIMSS will be well represented during the week, with the HIMSS 11th Annual Policy Summit taking place Wednesday and Thursday, Sept. 12-13. At that summit, HIMSS leaders will introduce three "Congressional Asks, which are:
"Politics aside, healthcare in America is on the threshold of huge advancements that will impact patient care and healthcare costs in profound ways," HIMSS officials said in a press release. "Implementation of electronic health records, increased use of mobile technology, continued movement toward a nationwide exchange of clinical information and the advancements in healthcare they make possible are already improving care for millions of Americans. "
"However, critical challenges remain to ensure secure and reliable exchange of healthcare information, a positive impact on the quality of care, appropriate population health management and patient safety," the release continued. "True national healthcare transformation is impossible without system-wide adoption of interoperable EHRs and nationwide health information exchange.
According to Wise, Collins and mHIMSS Manager Thomas Martin, mHealth may get just a passing mention in the asks, but its importance is implied. Healthcare providers and their patients are embracing tablets, smartphones and mobile devices, with the goal of improving clinical outcomes and reducing waste and excessive costs.
An important part of the asks is the need for a national patient data matching strategy, which identifies and protects each patient's health information. As the nation moves toward a patient-centered healthcare system, mHIMSS officials said, that data has to be made available to both the providers and the patients.
"It is imperative that everyone can be assured that their (healthcare) information is protected and secure and yet be available to them," said Wise.
Martin pointed out that other industries – most prominently the banking and airline industries ¬– are far ahead of healthcare in instituting mobile solutions, and that they aren't dealing with the privacy and security breaches that seem to plague healthcare on a monthly basis.
"There's a need for a steady and constant voice in privacy and security," he said. Protecting sensitive patient data "shouldn't be a hurdle and people have to struggle to clear."
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