Health Information Technology Shows Continuing Potential as Strong Export Sector

October 15, 2012

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Fred W. Aziz is Associate Director of Technology and E-Commerce at International Trade Administration, where he covers innovation sectors such as cloud computing, Health IT, and software.   

Matthew Hein is an International Trade Specialist on the Pharmaceutical and Medical Devices Team in the Office of Health and Consumer Goods, and also is part of a cross-office team following Health IT.

Steve Miller is an International Trade Specialist in the International Trade Administration’s  Office of Service Industries where he is responsible for knowledge economy issues including health services, research and development services, and university commercialization.

The intersection of information technology and health (hereafter Health IT) has recently been an area of increased focus, jump-started by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) in February 2009 and the more than $22 billion in ARRA funding designated to bring electronic health records (EHRs) to the majority of Americans by 2014.

However, EHRs are only as useful as the quality of data and images contained within them, and will be trusted by patients when strong privacy and security protocols exist to appropriately control information access.  In addition, healthcare workers need to be trained on how to effectively use EHRs.

All these areas are of high interest to the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA), an association leading efforts to manage health data and medical records, improve health record quality, and develop certification and education programs for industry members.

ITA’s Manufacturing and Services unit identified Health IT as a priority sector under the National Export Initiative for potentially strong export growth, and looks forward to continuing collaboration with companies and industry trade associations to promote increased Health IT exports of products and services.

On October 2, Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Manufacturing and ServicesNicole Y. Lamb-Hale gave the keynote speech at the inaugural Health Information Innovation Leadership Conference, done in conjunction with AHIMA’s Annual Conference and Exhibit in Chicago.  She provided insight on how innovative U.S. companies can address health information needs in countries worldwide, as well as some of the trade-related considerations about exporting products and services overseas.  In addition, she provided information about available ITA tools to help companies export.

Ms. Lamb-Hale also led an industry roundtable with about 20 AHIMA member companies (from health services, medical device, consultancies and software companies) to learn more about their market access challenges and opportunities as they investigate commercial opportunities abroad.

This was the third roundtable Ms. Lamb-Hale has led with the Health Information Technology (Health IT) industry since June 2011, with the initial event occurring at the White House Conference Center with the support of the Office of National Coordinator for Health IT within the Department of Health and Human Services and the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.