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Indian Health Service: The Federal Health Program for American Indians and Alaska Natives
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Meaningful Use in Indian Country

Image of Margo KerriganMargo Kerrigan, M.P.H., Area Director
Indian Health Service California Area Office

In a letter written earlier this year, Dr. David Blumenthal, Former National Coordinator for Health Information Technology stated that, "Put plainly, "meaningful use" is a shorthand for three things:

  1. An incentive program, rewarding not only deployment of EHRs but also their effective use for patient benefit;
  2. A new national infrastructure to support deployment and beneficial use of EHRs; and
  3. A vision for the evolving, dynamic and optimal uses of information to support health and health care improvement - the tip of the spear for an information-powered leap in the quality, safety and effectiveness (including cost effectiveness) of our health care system".

Find Dr. Blumenthal's entire letter at: http://healthit.hhs.gov/portal/server.pt?open=512&mode=2&objID=3541 Exit Disclaimer – You Are Leaving www.ihs.gov

The Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Electronic Health Record (EHR) Financial Incentive Program provides incentive payments to eligible professionals who adopt, implement, upgrade or demonstrate meaningful use of certified EHR technology. More info is available at www.cms.gov/EHRIncentivePrograms. Exit Disclaimer – You Are Leaving www.ihs.gov

The national infrastructure to support beneficial use of EHRs includes the following programs designed to build the foundation for every American to benefit from an electronic health record, as part of a modernized, interconnected, and vastly improved system of care delivery:

  • Regional Extension Centers are in place to support and serve health care providers helping them to quickly become adept and meaningful users of electronic health records (EHRs).
  • Workforce Training addresses the high demand for trained health information technology professionals with training programs at several educational levels. Most of the certificate training at the Community college level is tuition-free for a limited time through the Health IT Workforce Development Program. A list of training programs is available at http://healthit.hhs.gov Exit Disclaimer – You Are Leaving www.ihs.gov
  • Certification gives providers and patients confidence that the electronic health IT products and systems they use are secure, can maintain data confidentially, and can work with other systems to share information
  • Interoperability and trust address the availability of health data in combination with strong cyber security and strict protection for personal health information.
  • State Health Information Exchange (HIE) programs involve state-level coordination to develop solutions consistent with local needs.
Information about these programs is available at http://healthit.hhs.gov Exit Disclaimer – You Are Leaving www.ihs.gov

The National Indian Health Board (NIHB) National REC has been established to support healthcare programs serving American Indians and Alaska Natives. It is the ONLY national Regional Extension Center. Learn more at http://nihb.org/rec/rec.php Exit Disclaimer – You Are Leaving www.ihs.gov

Personal Health Records (PHRs) are vital in the quest to reduce medical errors, improve quality of care, and improve the information available to health care providers. PHRs function to consolidate an individual's medical information in one place and are available in a variety of formats. The Indian Health Service plans to release a PHR in the near future to give patients an option for viewing their medications, recent labs, problem list and allergies.

More information about PHRs is available at http://www.myphr.com/StartaPHR/what_is_a_phr.aspx. Exit Disclaimer – You Are Leaving www.ihs.gov

The California Meaningful Use team is available to answer your meaningful use questions:

California Area Indian Health Service

California Rural Indian Health Board

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