2: HIMSS 21 Conference

Following public health topics at the HIMSS 21 conference this week in Las Vegas.

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Following public health topics at the HIMSS 21 conference this week in Las Vegas.

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HIMSS 21 conference webpage

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This is Public Health Review Morning Edition for Wednesday, August 11th, 2021. I'm Robert Johnson. Every weekday morning, we report the latest news and opinion from the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials.

Follow us on Apple Podcasts and Spotify, or listen on Alexa.

Now, today's news.

Broadband internet access is likely to get a boost as Congress this week moves another step closer to approval of President Biden's proposed $1.2 trillion infrastructure spending plan. The hope is to connect more Americans to internet service, a health equity issue surfaced during the pandemic as people struggled to connect with doctors over the phone or on computers.

Broadband expert Craig Settles says connectivity is a problem everywhere.


Now, the rural may be, you know, a two, three-hour drive; but in the urban areas, it might be a two-hour bus ride, right?

So, the distance is not the same, but the time it takes to get there is the same.


The pandemic has changed lives in many ways. It's put new focus on cases of suicide, overdose, and adverse childhood experiences.

On a fresh episode of ASTHO’s podcast Public Health Review, Rachael Banks, director of Oregon Health Authority, reflects on her own lived experience.


I've thought about it more personally.

I thought back to an experience that I had where, at about 10 years old, I walked in on an attempted suicide by my father.


Listen now with the link in the show notes.

Health information and technology is the topic this week in Las Vegas, where thousands of health-focused professionals are gathered for the HIMSS 21 Conference.

Priyanka Surio is ASTHO senior director of public health data modernization. She speaks with us from the event.

Why is the HIMSS Conference important to ASTHO and its members?


So, HIMSS—which stands for the Health Information and Management Systems Society—has traditionally been a place for thought leaders in healthcare, in the business side of health, and the vendor and tech community to convene and to discuss innovations and advancements in the field. And it's also an incredible opportunity, particularly at the conference, for all of those minds to come together and to really create and co-create a better future for health.

So, what's nice is that their theme for this year is around, “Be the change.” And I think this year, in particular, it’s really key for public health to be at the table because of all of the increased attention, and funding, and prioritization towards public health funding as it relates to data modernization, as it relates in the wake of COVID, and all of the coordinating the public health had to play and fill in, as well as the many gaps that were inherent in our entire healthcare system.

So, this is the year for us to be the change and for us to really start to take this conference that has traditionally been more in the healthcare sector to another notch as it relates to public health. And that's what they're trying to do this year, and then our presence here is going to help achieve.


The HIMSS conference, of course, is big—so many things going on, so many discussions.

You're there—what are you following for ASTHO members this week?



So, there are a couple of sessions where ASTHO members have been asked to provide input on or speak at, and some of those are around maternal and child health, particularly a round table for state engagement on digital tech. There are also other sessions such as lessons learned from COVID-19 at the federal and state level and some of those responses, and we have a couple of members that provided input on that. So, those are primary sessions.

I'll also be speaking at two sessions. One will be a round table around how we leverage smart cities to improve and connect COVID-19 response and beyond. And then, another one is around an interoperability and health information exchange panel where we'll be talking a lot about just different digital tech, interoperability, and data sharing. So, those are the primary sessions that we'll be attending.

But how we're prioritizing our attendance this year is through our partnership and connection with both the HIMSS government relations team, as well as the HIMSS social determinants of health task force, which we sit on. And there are a number of sessions that they recommended to us that we will be picking and choosing from to attend. Even though the conference is so big, we’ll have some presence at some of these.


What do you think will be the biggest conference takeaways, then, for people in public health?


I think some of the biggest takeaways for us—because there is this increased interest in public health and primarily this has been a conference where a lot of the industry comes especially as it relates to showcasing what they can do—I think some of the biggest takeaways for public health will be around how do we want to shape how that technology better serves our public health response and workflow, and what kind of relationship do we want to have—or that we would want to request—in terms of the level of support and collaboration from much of the industry.

And I think this, again, conference represents our opportunity to shape that and drive that conversation.


If you want to know more about anything in our report today, visit the links in the show notes.

Tomorrow, join us again for more ASTHO news and information. Plus, a conversation with ASTHO CEO, Mike Fraser, about the Delta variant and the state of public health.

I'm Robert Johnson. You're listening to Public Health Review Morning Edition.

Priyanka Surio MPH PMP CHES

Senior Director of Public Health Data Modernization and Informatics, ASTHO