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IHS Moves Closer to Build Phase of Health IT Modernization Program

by Mitchell Thornbrugh, Chief Information Officer and Director, Office of Information Technology, Indian Health Service

For the past few years, I have discussed the need for the IHS Health IT Modernization Program and how we got to this decision in coordination with our tribal and urban Indian partners. Many factors went into the decision to replace the nearly 40-year-old Resource and Patient Management System, which is used in some capacity throughout Indian Health Service, tribal, and urban Indian programs. After much research, partner coordination and planning, the month of May marks a milestone in this multi-year initiative and moves us closer to the “build phase” of our work.

Two new contract teams began their work with the Division of Health IT Modernization and Operations, which leads the Modernization Program. Both teams have technical expertise, cultural knowledge and a passion for health care. The new contract teams are:

  • Organizational Change Management: Native American-owned Totem Consulting leads a proven team comprised of Indigenous Pact, ECS Federal, and Chenega. Key to their work’s success is a collaborative, human-centered approach to change, plus the use of data to deliver solutions and measure progress. They supported large transformations at the National Institutes of Health, Defense Health Agency, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, and American Heart Association. The team also has experience working with American Indian and Alaska Native communities in a health setting and providing electronic health record solutions in a complex health care delivery network.

  • Project Management Office: Kadiak, an Alaska Native corporation, leads the PMO team of Seneca Global Services, Wichita Tribal Enterprises, and Deloitte Consulting. Their strong understanding of the needs of tribal communities and patients who rely on IHS for essential health care solutions informs how they approach their technical work. Their past PMO work includes support at the Military Health System, U.S. Food and Drug Administration, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Centers for Disease Control, Health and Human Services, IHS, and the 10 largest commercial health care systems in the United States.

These teams will build on the foundational work provided by MITRE and their partners Guidehouse and Kauffman and Associates. For more than two years, the MITRE team worked with IHS and partners to design and deliver project management, risk management, governance, change management, strategic communications, and engineering and architecture support—among other areas. Over the next several months, MITRE will transition its work to the incoming teams to maintain momentum, transfer knowledge, and reduce risk.

Both contract teams will work with the IHS and its partners to design and implement a new enterprise electronic health record to help improve the patient experience and health outcomes across Indian Country. The new EHR will help patients access and share their health information with a new provider when they seek care in an emergency room or move to another community.

As we move forward with the Modernization Program, I encourage partners to sign up through the IHS website to get email updates on the program. You can read more about the program on the IHS website.

Related Content:

IHS Releases Two Requests for Proposals to Support Health IT Modernization
IHS Focuses On Partner-Centered Design to Modernize Its Health IT System
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Mitchell Thornbrugh, Chief Information Officer and Director, Office of Information Technology, Indian Health Service

Mitchell Thornbrugh, an enrolled member of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation, is the chief information officer and the director of the Office of Information Technology for the Indian Health Service. His responsibilities include advising senior IHS leadership on all aspects of information resource management and technology and ensures IHS compliance with information technology laws, regulations, and policies. Thornbrugh previously served as the chief operations officer for the Cherokee Nation Hastings Hospital.