Skip to site content

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.

A nurse consults two physicians on a patient case file at a local tribal medical facility

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) Exit Disclaimer: You Are Leaving www.ihs.gov  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?

The modernized electronic health record, like current IHS health IT systems, will comply with all federal patient privacy laws including, but not limited to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and the Privacy Act of 1974 Exit Disclaimer: You Are Leaving www.ihs.gov . You can find the full IHS Privacy Policy Statement here.

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 Exit Disclaimer: You Are Leaving www.ihs.gov  to support the acquisition of the enterprise electronic health record solution. Refer to SAM.gov Exit Disclaimer: You Are Leaving www.ihs.gov  for further information acquisitions related to 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.