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IHS looking towards future for Health IT

by Capt. Mark Rives, IHS Chief Information Officer

The Indian Health Service is currently re-evaluating the Resource and Patient Management System (RPMS) system currently used by the IHS in federal hospitals and clinics, as well as in some Tribal and Urban health programs. RPMS is used to manage clinical, financial and administrative information in these healthcare facilities. Professionals throughout the Indian health system use RPMS every day to efficiently provide high-quality care for patients.

RPMS was developed in close partnership with the Veterans Health Administration. By adapting software developed by the VA for their system, VistA, IHS has been able to reduce expenditures on developing and maintaining RPMS. The VA recently announced a decision to move to a new system, offering IHS an opportunity to re-evaluate our Health IT needs and options. The IHS is working with VA to ensure smooth transition to new IHS health IT system. It’s important to note that the VA is still developing a timeline for their transition, which means the VA will continue their support for VistA, and by extension RPMS, for several years.

Prior to the VA’s announcements, the IHS Information Systems Advisory Committee (ISAC) had started a workgroup to examine the larger question of our EHR and health IT platforms. That work is underway, and should provide decision makers with useful options for consideration as well as documented decision-making criteria to consider when making a decision.

IHS has also conducted several listening sessions with a broad array of stakeholder communities to gather input to assist in our decision making process. Feedback from the workgroup, ISAC, listening sessions, and engagement with HHS and other federal programs will ultimately converge to provide the IHS with good information to help determine a best path forward.

We will continue to update our stakeholders as we develop a plan to improve the IHS health IT platform. The IHS wants to make sure we engage our stakeholders, examine all the input, and ensure that we are appropriately timed with the federal budget cycle. But, with that said, the IHS must make measured progress towards the improvements that will benefit our organization.

This is truly an opportunity, and the IHS plans to capitalize on the chance to re-examine its Health IT platform for better use in the delivery of care.

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Capt. Mark Rives, IHS Chief Information Officer
Capt. Mark Rives, a member of the Crow Creek Sioux Tribe of South Dakota, is a certified healthcare Chief Information Officer. He holds a Doctor of Science degree in Information Systems and Communications as well as a Master of Business Administratio