National Health IT Collaborative for the Underserved (NHIT) Hosts 10th Annual Summit Focused on Health IT Equity

Luis Belen, Micky Tripathi, Ph.D., M.P.P., Former Cngresswoman Dr. Donna Christensen, Congressman Darren Soto

“When we invest in infrastructure that will expand access to high-speed internet, clean water and reliable electricity in people’s homes, we are helping rural people access healthcare, education and business opportunities, and we are helping them live happier and healthier lives.” Said Torres Small

NHIT Summit, the premier national conference devoted exclusively to healthcare IT and health equity, concluded its 10th annual event with attendees this year, both in-person and virtual. With the 2022 theme of “All Access: Innovating To Deliver On The Promise Of Health Equity”, five panels of thought leaders and experts engaged in robust discussions on ways that IT infrastructure and industry innovation in digital health solutions can support health equity strategies and improve outcomes for the underserved.

“The discussions and resulting initiatives at NHIT Summit 2022 are more relevant and important than ever,” said Luis Belen, CEO of NHIT. “The pandemic underscored the importance of digital health ecosystems for every demographic but the recent alignment of industry innovation, political resolve, and government investment offers a golden opportunity to finally realize the promise of health equity for the underserved.”

The Summit featured 28 industry experts, panelists, and guest speakers with opening remarks from Orange County mayor Jerry L. Demings, former congresswoman Dr. Donna Christensen, Florida senator Victor M. Torres, Jr., and Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer.

Mayor Dyer highlighted, “The Summit brings together health executives to interact with innovators and other professionals,” while Mayor Demings emphasized how “Orange County Government shares NHIT commitment to protect the interest of underserved and at risk communities. [T]he Summit highlights some of the most cutting-edge innovations in the field.“

Shortly after addressing the Summit, Congressman Darren Soto tweeted “Pleased to welcome and address [NHIT Summit 2022] in Orlando today. Thanks for supporting access to healthcare and choosing Central Florida!”

“ONC continues to focus on health equity in our policies and projects to align with the priorities of the Biden-Harris administration,” said opening keynote speaker Micky Tripathi, Ph.D., M.P.P., National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. “We’re grateful for our many partners in this important effort.”

A fireside chat with Xochitl Torres Small, Under Secretary for Rural Development in the U.S. Department of Agriculture, explored the importance of investmenting in rural America infrastructure and why it should matter to all Americans. “The Biden-Harris Administration has made investing in infrastructure improvements a top priority, and rural America is at the center of this effort,” said Torres Small. “When we invest in infrastructure that will expand access to high-speed internet, clean water and reliable electricity in people’s homes, we are helping rural people access healthcare, education and business opportunities, and we are helping them live happier and healthier lives.”

During his presentation “Promoting Health Equity: The Privilege of Caring,” Emilio Herrera Molina, Global Chief Health Officer for Keralty, explained that, “Promoting health equity for underserved populations requires investment in innovation and technologies. It will also require our healthcare system to embrace a complex transformation: a profound ‘re-evolution’ to transform the current upside-down healthcare system from a patient-centered to a person-centered model of care, more community engagement and community empowerment, and a collective purpose to grow compassion in our society”.

The Summit’s moderated panels further explored current challenges and innovations in digital health solutions and the correlation health IT equity:

  • Infrastructure: Impact on Health Equity
  • Innovation: Industry Leaders on Advancing Health Equity and Accountability
  • The Forgotten Crises: Mental Health and Substance Use Disorders
  • Puerto Rico Health Affairs Update: The Promise of a 21st Century Health System

NHIT announced the launch of an Industry Coalition along with new initiatives and partnerships to expand and strengthen the NHIT partner network. As a founding collaborator of In Full Health, a new initiative of the American Medical Association, NHIT has further committed to advancing equitable health innovation. Collaborating with the Telehealth Equity Coalition, NHIT initiated a national listening tour to hear directly from underserved communities. Partners in the private, public and nonprofit sectors were invited to join NHIT in the conversation to ensure the needs of the underserved are accurately understood and addressed.

Winners of the 2022 NHIT Awards were celebrated at the Summit’s evening reception with welcome remarks from Orange County Property Appraiser and former Florida State Representative Amy Mercado. “I have witnessed and experienced many different healthcare inequities in my life and in 2016 when I was elected to the Florida Legislature alongside my dad, State Senator Victor Torres, as the first Father/Daughter duo in our history, I made it my mission to serve on Healthcare committees and file bills that I thought would serve our communities and give a voice to the voiceless,” shared Mercado. “Entities like the National Health IT Collaborative for the Underserved EMPOWER local communities by doing the work you are doing!”

  • Mr. Michael “MJ” Jackson, VP, Industry Strategy & Solutions at DocuSign, received the Health IT Equity Vanguard Award
  • Ms. April Mims, Senior VP of Public Policy at Hims & Hers, received the Health IT Equity Champion Award
  • ​​Ms. Elizabeth “Liz” Simonhoff Perez, Senior Director at TracFone Wireless received the Health IT Equity Pioneer Award
  • INSPIRA was recipient of the Community Health IT Advocacy Award

NHIT will host its annual Legislative Summit on September 20, 2022 in Washington, DC.

About NHIT
NHIT is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization on a mission to provide equitable access to health technologies and to make sure that these technologies address the needs of underserved communities and communities of color. Since its founding in 2008, NHIT has worked to advance health equity and economic viability on issues such as broadband access, electronic health records, precision medicine, consumer health applications and disaster resiliency. NHIT has collaborated with Amazon Web Services (AWS), and Tyler Technologies to launch the NHIT Data Fusion Center, to tackle and translate social determinants of health (SDoH) data into actionable insights.

About NHIT Summit
The NHIT Summit is an education program for health executives to interact with innovators and world-class thought leadership. The Summit will focus on the organization’s mission to engage underserved populations in the development and use of health information technology (HIT) to support and sustain health equity and economic viability based on NHIT’s five pillars: Workforce, Innovation, Policy, Research, and Community.

For media queries, please contact: Luis Belen, LBelen@nhit.org

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