At the end of March 2017, the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) held their annual Advocacy Symposium and Capitol Hill Day. In the midst of the Cherry Festival and full blown cherry blossoms, representatives from 48 Component State Associations (CSAs) met up to discuss topics important to health information management professionals and the healthcare industry.
At the Advocacy Symposium, discussion surrounded the HIPAA and the continued process of supporting patient rights under HIPAA in the ever-changing healthcare industry. Deven McGraw, Deputy Director of Health Information Privacy for the Office of Civil Rights (OCR), under the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), spoke about the importance of patient access to health information, the reduction of barriers to access, the current HIPAA audits, and plans for the future. The OCR and DHHS continue to put resources and tools out to the healthcare industry to support the modernization of the HIPAA regulations in the new electronic world!
Cora Han, Senior Attorney in the Division of Privacy and Identity Protection of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), spoke about how the FTC continues to address privacy and security concerns, in addition to issues with non-HIPAA compliant entities. It was a very informative speech that provided great insight to how DHHS and the FTC work together to ensure privacy and security protections to consumers of healthcare!
We ended the day with a great presentation regarding how to disrupt healthcare and learned about how to "Flip the Clinic." It is a great concept that has gotten a lot of discussion on social media platforms such as Twitter. Check out more information regarding Flip the Clinic - http://fliptheclinic.org/.
The day after the Advocacy Symposium, the AHIMA Representation charged Capitol Hill to discuss two important topics facing the health information community: 1) National Patient Identifier and 2) the HIM profession. With the change of leadership due to the recent presidential election, it was important to focus on the continued conversation in regard to moving towards a national patient identifier, a key component in supporting interoperability between healthcare information systems. A specific solution was not being discussed, but rather the dialogue centered around continued support and keeping language out of the Appropriations Bill that would block the conversation about a National Patient Identifier.
The second conversation on Capitol Hill informed legislators of who we are as health information professionals, and what expertise and support we can bring to the conversations in the healthcare legislation areas. It is important for our legislators to know about us as new issues and proposed laws and regulations emerge. The goal is for them to remember our profession and reach out to the HIM community to support legislation!
Overall, it was an extremely successful couple of days. AHIMA and the CSA Representation had great conversations with positive outcomes. We definitely made our point, continuing our success and reputation in the legislative environment. The other highlight of the trip was seeing the beautiful cherry blossom trees in full bloom! If you haven’t seen them in person, put it on your list of things to see. It is definitely worth the trip!