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Background Information

IHS Innovative Approach to Health IT Background Information

Challenge At-Hand

The current Indian Health Service (IHS) electronic health record (EHR) system is built on the Veterans Affairs’ EHR called “VistA.” The VA has announced VistA will be replaced by a commercial system created by Cerner Corporation. This change will impact the IHS Health Information Technology System. In light of this announcement, the IHS must create and execute a strategy to modernize its EHR system and the information technology systems necessary to support it (collectively, “HIT”).

IHS Delivery System

The IHS provides a comprehensive health service delivery system for American Indians and Alaska Natives and is the primary source of individual and public healthcare services for 1.6 million of the approximately 2.6 million American Indians and Alaska Natives living near reservations and tribal communities served by the IHS facilities. For many tribal members, IHS is the only source of healthcare.  The Indian Health Service is an agency within the Department of Health and Human Services. The provision of health services to members of federally-recognized tribes grew out of the special government-to-government relationship between the federal government and Indian tribes. This relationship was established in 1787.

IHS’ Electronic Health Record System

In support of its mission, IHS currently uses a comprehensive EHR system capable of fulfilling a wide variety of clinical and administrative operations. Its current system – the Resource and Patient Management System (RPMS) – includes practice management, scheduling, billing, e-prescribing, inpatient, ambulatory, community care, and data reporting solutions.

Its current system – RPMS – includes practice management, scheduling, billing, e-prescribing, inpatient, ambulatory, community care, and data reporting solutions.  Although RPMS has adequately served the needs of its users in the past, IHS has realized the need for improved interoperability and usability in order to continue to serve its communities to the highest level. In response to this, HHS CTO developed the IHS HIT Modernization Project, which aims to provide a comprehensive analysis of alternative recommendations to help guide IHS in modernizing its health IT.

While the EHR system has sufficiently met the needs of its users in past years, IHS stated the need for improved interoperability has contributed to its decision to invest in modernization efforts.

Health IT Modernization Project Objectives

The project will develop a recommendation on best approach to inform and support Indian Health Service in its HIT Modernization decision making process.  The project will also develop a roadmap and execution strategy to deliver on prioritized initiatives. Key objectives include

  • Identify the current goals and requirements to better meet the IHS’s mission with EHR software.
  • Conduct Health Information Technology Assessment
  • Identify and document clinical, technical and cultural requirements to improve the IHS’s healthcare outcomes through HIT.
  • Analyze and rank EHR solution options, including but not limited to enhancements of current system as well as commercial off the shelf systems.