Today, leading patient and health care groups released proposals for ways to advance health IT infrastructure and promote health equity through safer, easier to access technologies. The COVID-19 public health crisis propelled changes in the way health care is delivered and how health data is exchanged, highlighting shortcomings in the nation’s public health infrastructure and response capabilities, exposing deep and longstanding health inequities.

Reflecting the new landscape and urgency to ensure that health data follows patients when and where they need it, 12 associations and non-profits representing patients, clinicians, hospitals, health plans, and technology companies released a white paper providing a roadmap for the future of health IT policy in the wake of the pandemic.

“We believe virtual care is – and will continue – to transform the way our health care system works, creating a more innovative and effective system that delivers better outcomes and lower costs for patients,” said Justine Handelman, senior vice president, Office of Policy and Representation for the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association. “We look forward to continue working with our HIT Roundtable colleagues, Congress and the administration to advance policies that make it easier for people to access the care they need, no matter where they are, using safe and secure technologies.”

The Power of Technology to Transform Patient Care white paper explores the role that health care and public health systems played in the pandemic response; highlights the importance of collecting and reporting data on race, ethnicity, and social needs; emphasizes the importance of health data privacy; and outlines recommendations to continue the advancement of health IT. The proposals build on the Health IT Leadership Roundtable eventThe Power of Technology to Transform Patient Care: Health IT Priorities for 2021which was facilitated by Sirona Strategies health care consultancy in March 2021.

“Technology is and will continue to be integral to the future of health care. It offers tremendous promise for improving access to care, addressing health inequities, and helping to make care more equitable. However, as with any new system or innovation, there are many pitfalls and unintended consequences to guard against and try to plan for,” said Sinsi Hernández-Cancio, Vice President for Health Justice, National Partnership for Women & Families. “We must build and deploy systems with equity in mind.”

The March event sought to provide an opportunity for a diverse set of patients, policymakers, and organizations to find common ground in exploring the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on health IT and health care data policy and to discuss industry and policymaker priorities for 2021.

“As a family doctor and infectious disease specialist, I have seen first hand how effective technology can be in the delivery of patient care if used appropriately and to its greatest potential,” said Dr. Darilyn V. Moyer, Executive Vice President and Chief Executive Officer, American College of Physicians. “The COVID pandemic highlighted longstanding gaps in interoperability, as well as the role of social drivers of health and the importance of being able to act on a range of data. Having access to patient data helps strengthen the patient-physician relationship and promotes shared decision-making.”

The event was hosted by: American Academy of Family Physicians, American College of Physicians, American Health Information Management Association, American Heart Association, American Hospital Association, American Medical Informatics Association, Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, College of Healthcare Information Management Executives, Consumer Technology Association, Federation of American Hospitals, National Partnership for Women & Families, and Premier Healthcare Alliance.

More information about the white paper and the event can be found here.