Expanding telehealth and modernizing public health infrastructure are also high on the trade association's list of requests.
The Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) is urging the incoming Biden/Harris administration to focus on health IT to advance a range of goals including developing a national COVID-19 pandemic strategy, and permanently expanding telehealth services.
In a letter sent on December 15, HIMSS President & CEO Harold F. Wolf III identified eight priorities that require immediate action in 2021:
- Develop and implement a nationwide COVID-19 strategy supported by health IT
- Permanently expand telehealth and remote patient monitoring
- Modernize public health data infrastructure
- Heighten national focus on health equity
- Develop a national patient identification strategy
- Expand interoperability and health data exchange
- Bolster cyber defenses for health infrastructure
- Apply innovations to care delivery
The letter describes each of the eight priorities in detail.
HIMSS also pledged to help the incoming administration ensure equitable distribution of vaccines.
During a press briefing, when asked, HIMSS officials said they had just begun to define the organization's stance on immunity passports, potential tools for recording and sharing the immune status of an individual.
The HIMSS letter stated that the organization has developed clear evidence that virtual care offers equivalent quality to in-person care, as well as greater convenience to patients. "Telehealth also advances health equity by removing many barriers to care created by in-person visits and expands access to many underserved communities and individuals in ways never before envisioned."
In the letter, Wolf states that the initial investment of $550 million for the Data Modernization Initiative (DMI) through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act will not be enough to modernize and maintain the U.S. public health surveillance system.
"The House of Representatives passed funding legislation that included an additional $450 million for DMI," the letter states. "We continue to urge Congressional leadership to include these resources in the final FY 2021 appropriations legislation and to continue sustained investments through regular appropriations."
Scott Mace is a contributing writer for HealthLeaders.
Photo credit: Democratic nominee Joe Biden made an abbreviated campaign visit to Grand Rapids, Michigan, on Friday, hours after he tested negative for the coronavirus in two separate tests. September 21, 2020. / Editorial credit: Alex Gakos / Shutterstock.com