U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Indian Health Service: The Federal Health Program for American Indians and Alaska Natives
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National Data Warehouse (NDW)  

Submitting Data

Any American Indian or Alaska Native (AI/AN) program, entity, or site that uses a health information system may be able to send in data. Further detailed information for being recognized as an IHS sending site can be provided by the appropriate Area Statistical Officer.

Dr. Grim has required sites to send identifiable registration and encounter records to NPIRS for user counts.
Click on the links below to obtain copies of Dr. Grim's letters and memoranda addressing this and related NPIRS/NDW issues.

Director, IHS's 12/10/2003 letter to Tribal Leaders concerning the NDW Agency-wide Export [PDF - 78KB]
Director, IHS's letter to Tribal Leaders concerning the NDW Agency-wide Export [PDF - 78KB]
Acting Director Office of Public Health's letter to Area Directors concerning the NDW Agency-wide Export [PDF - 42KB]
Director, IHS's memorandum to Area Directors requiring sites to export individually identifiable registration and encounter data for user counts [PDF - 37KB]

Acceptable Export Formats

Data can be exported to NPIRS/NDW in one of the following ways:


  • For sites that are using the IHS RPMS system, IHS provides an application that will export data to the NDW in the proper format. For more information about this application, refer to the "Data Warehouse Export System (BDW)" User Manual in the RPMS Application Documents Library.


  • The RPMS system also creates Contract Health formatted files for export to the NDW. For more information about this application click the following link:

RPMS Contract Health Mgt. Information System User Guide [PDF - 1.43MB]

  • For those sites that are not using RPMS, the preferred file format conforms to the industry-wide standard format for healthcare information, HL7 version 2.4. Besides the minimum elements required for basic reporting, such as Workload and User Population reports, the HL7 export format includes data elements that can be used to provide expanded reporting capabilities and analyses related to other health status needs and performance measurement activities, such as Diabetes Management, Epidemiology, GPRA, and JCAHO's ORYX. For more information about this application click the following link:

IHS's NPIRS/NDW Data Transmission Guide Using HL7 Standards Format

  • For those that cannot yet implement the industry-wide standard (HL7), the Non-HL7 Delimited File is available as of 10/01/12. This format includes data elements that can be used to provide basic reporting, such as your Workload and User Population reports; however, it cannot provide the expanded reporting capabilities and analyses that are possible with HL7. For more information about this application click the following link:

IHS's NPIRS/NDW Data Transmission Guide Using Non-HL7 Delimited File

Creating an Export File

Usual initial first steps prior to creating an export file:
  • Review the file format guides (See the section “Acceptable Export Formats”) to determine the file format you wish to use.
  • Contact support@ihs.gov to share the project lead’s contact information and have initial call to discuss the effort.
  • You will need to work with your Area Statistical Officer to establish:
  • Facility code
  • Standard Code Book (SCB) facility table coding information
  • IHS DB-ID (database identifier)


Next steps:
  • Begin mapping source system elements to the NDW fields in the guides. Minimum required fields are listed in the “NDW Required HL7 Components”section of the HL7 Guide and in the “Required Registration and Encounter Fields” section of the Structured Guide. Minimum required fields are bolded in the guide appendices for easy identification.
  • Apply the applicable SCB information to the export or source system for inclusion.
    The link for the SCB is: http://www.ihs.gov/scb/
  • Create test file(s) for NPIRS to review for accuracy, format, logic, data integrity, and data quality.
    If available, data starting from 10/01/2000 is preferred.


Common issues to look for when creating a test file:

  • Have you included all the applicable required elements in the file?
  • Are header and trailer records included?
  • Are end of record or message control characters included?
  • Format errors – most common problems are associated with field length and alignment, padding the data to fit the field, wrong end of line control characters, and working through data inconsistencies in source system.
  • Logic, data integrity and quality errors – working through unique code issues, applying SCB table information correctly, and including required field info.
The data elements and their descriptions can be found in alphabetical order by field name in Appendix D of the HL7 Format guide or Appendix B of the Structured File format guide.

Export Transmission

If your Site has a network connection within the IHS cloud (i.e. has access to the IHS intranet), a secure ftp site is available. Contact the NPIRS Helpdesk with your phone number for help accessing this site.

If your Site does not have a connection within the IHS cloud, contact your Area Statistical Officer for possible transmission methods.

If neither of these options will work, the file can be sent via a traceable package service. Contact the NPIRS Helpdesk for details about sending the data this way.

Please contact the OIT Helpdesk at support@ihs.gov for technical assistance related to ftp problems whether related to RPMS or non-RPMS systems. Provide as much information about the problem as possible.

Tracking Exports

Please refer to the subsection tabs under this section for detailed information on tracking your exports.

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