Frequently Asked Questions
Throughout the design and implementation of the new enterprise electronic health record, IHS will revise and add to the frequently asked questions that appear on this page.
What is the IHS Health Information Technology Modernization Program?
The IHS Health Information Technology (IT) Modernization Program is a multi-year effort to modernize health IT systems for IHS, tribal, and urban Indian (I/T/U) health care programs. The Program will replace the Resource and Patient Management System with an enterprise health record system. The IHS will manage the Program through a user-centered governance model that seeks input from federal and tribal experts on the design of the solution.
What will the IHS Health Information Technology Modernization Program address?
The goal of the Program is to help the IHS achieve its mission to improve the health status of American Indian and Alaska Native people. The Program provides enterprise health IT support (e.g., systems, procedures, infrastructure) to improve health care delivery, management, and access across Indian Country.
Why is the IHS replacing the Resource and Patient Management System?
Due to research [PDF], IHS chose to replace Resource and Patient Management System because it:
- Relies on local support of more than 200 separate databases and does not utilize an enterprise approach
- Requires extensive development to keep and continue enhancements
- Requires custom development to meet regulatory requirements across all applications
- Does not support seamless data integration among IHS, tribal, and urban facilities or their referral networks
- Is dependent on the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ (VA) electronic health record system “VistA.” VA is on course to replace VistA, which makes it hard and costly for IHS to keep the almost four decades old system working
Additionally, the new system will connect isolated health data and improve health care coordination for patients across Indian Country.
What are the benefits of the IHS Health Information Technology Modernization Program for tribes?
Other benefits of the modernized EHR include improvements to patient safety and patient outcomes, clinical quality measures, agency performance reporting, improved-disease management, and more accurate and complete insurance reimbursement.
What new or enhanced capabilities is the modernized electronic health record solution expected to have?
The IHS expects the modernized electronic health record system to meet or exceed the existing capabilities of the current Resource and Patient Management System electronic health record. Expected functionality includes:
- Improved provider access to patient health records and data across IHS, tribal, and urban health care facilities
- Ability to measure, assess, and visualize population health status, including clinical quality measures
- Enhanced access to services for American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) people seeking care from IHS, tribal, and urban programs through telehealth
- Complete Revenue Cycle Management capabilities for billing and collection for health care services provided to AI/AN people
- Patient identity management technologies to increase accuracy in patient identity matching when merging patient medical record data from two or more databases into a single consolidated medical record
How will the IHS protect patient data in an enterprise Electronic Health Record?
How will the IHS use health data in the new enterprise electronic health record system?
The IHS will follow the same regulations to protect patient’s private information. Under the IHS Health Information Technology Modernization Program, IHS will not use or disclose patient health information without permission. IHS is required to (1) maintain the privacy of patient health information (2) inform patients about IHS privacy practices regarding health information collected and maintain about patients (3) notify patients if the IHS is unable to agree to a requested restriction; and (4) accommodate reasonable requests from patients to communicate health information by alternative means or at alternative locations. For further information around the use of health data, please refer to the IHS Notice of Privacy Practices [PDF].
How will the IHS acquire and pay for the new enterprise electronic health record system?
The IHS is following federal procurement guidelines outlined in the Federal Acquisition Regulation to support the acquisition of the enterprise electronic health record solution. Refer to SAM.gov for further acquisitions related information around the Modernization. Additionally, IHS is following federal budgetary procedures to support accurate cost analysis and cost estimation to support the procurement, implementation, and use of the modernized EHR solution.
What steps is the IHS taking to replace the Resource and Patient Management System electronic health record?
On August 4, 2022, the IHS released the Request for Proposals (RFP) for the enterprise electronic health record system on SAM.gov. The RFP enables the acquisition of commercial products to replace the Resource and Patient Management System, which includes the work of implementing, training, and supporting the new solution across Indian Country.
As emphasized during tribal consultation and urban confer sessions, the IHS must adhere to federal acquisition regulations that restrict information that can be shared, in order to support a full and open acquisition process. More information about the RFP has been provided in a letter addressed to tribal leaders and urban Indian organization leaders.
How has the IHS communicated, collaborated with, and received input from the tribal and urban Indian community regarding the Health Information Technology Modernization Program?
The IHS regularly communicates with and obtains input from tribal and urban Indian organization members around the IHS Health Information Technology Modernization Program. Below are links to Tribal Consultation and Urban Confer sessions and Dear Tribal/Urban Indian Organization Leader Letters (DTLL/DUIOLL) around the Program:
- August 2022 – DTLL/DUIOLL published announcing the release of a Request for Proposals seeking commercial products to replace the Resource and Patient Management System (RPMS)
- August 2022 – Tribal Consultation and Urban Confer session about the Program’s data management strategy and focus group participation
- July 2022 – DTLL/DUIOLL invitation to participate in conversations around the effectiveness of current engagement efforts in the Health IT Modernization Program and provide insight to best to support continued engagement with partners
- May 2022 – Tribal Consultation and Urban Confer session around the Modernization Program’s governance approach, effective IT governance, and promotion of focus groups for I/T/U clinical and technical SMEs
- March 2022 - Tribal Consultation and Urban Confer session around the benefits of the EHR Modernization Program, Program trajectory, and acquisition strategy
- February 2022 – DTLL/DUIOLL announcing a series of upcoming Tribal Consultation/Urban Confer sessions around the Health IT Modernization, in particular Program updates, opportunities for participation, and next steps
- August 2021 – DTLL/DUIOLL announcing Program updates and asking for written feedback to the RFI containing the Statement of Objectives
- May 2021 – DTLL/DUIOLL announcing Listening Sessions on the draft Statement of Objectives for the Modernization
- May 2021 – Hosted a virtual Industry Day event on May 21, 2021
- May 2021 – DTLL/DUIOLL announcing a data call to inform Tribal Health Programs and Urban Indian Organizations' experiences with electronic health record acquisitions and costs
- April 2021 – DTLL/DUIOLL announcing IHS decision for full replacement of the Resource and Patient Management System after significant Tribal and Urban engagement and input
- December 2020 – DTLL/DUIOLL announcing Listening Sessions for input on next steps in the Health IT Modernization
- November 2019 – DTLL/DUIOLL announcing the Strategic Options for the Modernization of the Indian Health Service Health Information Technology Roadmap Executive Summary and Strategic Options for the Modernization of the Indian Health Service Health Information Technology Final Report
- October 2018 – DTLL/DUIOLL announcing the IHS Health IT Research Project and first steps in evaluation options in modernizing Health IT
- July 2017 – DTLL/DUIOLL announcing two additional listening sessions for further input and recommendations around how to best modernize the RPMS EHR
- June 2017 – DTLL/DUIOLL announcing two listening sessions for input and recommendations around approaches to modernize the RPMS EHR