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Goal 3

Goal 3: To strengthen IHS program management and operations.

Goal Explanation: This goal addresses issues of management, accountability, communication, and modernized information systems. The IHS is committed to the principles of improved internal and external communication, and sound management. Assuring the availability and ongoing development of a comprehensive information technology (IT) system is essential to improving access to integrated clinical, administrative, and financial data to support individual patient care, and decision-making.

Objective 3.1: Improve communication within the organization with Tribes, Urban Indian Organizations, and other stakeholders, and with the general public.

Objective Explanation: This objective addresses the critical need to improve communication throughout the IHS, with employees and patients, with Tribes, UIOs, with the many organizations working with the IHS and with the general public. Most important is to assist Tribes, UIOs, and the IHS in better understanding Tribal and urban Indian needs and IHS program needs, to encourage full participation in information exchange, and to engage Tribes and urban Indian programs in partnerships and building coalitions. This includes defining and characterizing community and health-specific program needs, modifying programs as needed, and monitoring the effectiveness of programs and program modifications.

Strategies – The following strategies support this objective:

Communication Improvements:

  1. Improve communication and transparency among all employees, managers, and senior leadership.
  2. Develop and define proactive communication plans for internal and external stakeholders.
  3. Enhance health-related outreach and education activities to patients and families.
  4. Design social media platforms that will ensure wide dissemination of information to interested and affected individuals and organizations.

Strengthen Partnerships:

  1. Assure quality reporting relationships between service units, area offices, and headquarters are clearly defined and implemented.
  2. Effectively collaborate with other IHS offices (e.g., the IHS Loan Repayment Program) and HHS staff and operating divisions where missions, goals, and authorities overlap.

Objective 3.2: Secure and effectively manage the assets and resources.

Objective Explanation: This objective supports the delivery of health care through improved management of all types of assets and non-workforce resources. To elevate the health status of the AI/AN population and increase access to medical care, the IHS must continue to help ensure patients understand their health care options and improve health care system business processes and efficiencies. The IHS will also increase the effectiveness of operations and reporting, while providing more assistance and infrastructure support to IHS areas and facilities.

Strategies – The following strategies support this objective:

Infrastructure, Capacity, and Sustainability:

  1. Enhance transparency of IHS management and accountability infrastructure to properly manage and secure assets.
  2. Promote collaboration among federal, state, Tribes, and local health programs to develop the necessary health care and public health infrastructure to effectively provide essential public health services.
  3. Provide technical assistance to strengthen the capacity of service units and area offices to enhance effective management and oversight.
  4. Apply economic principles and methods to assure ongoing security and sustainability of federal, Tribal and urban Indian facilities.

Improved Business Process:

  1. Routinely review management operations to effectively improve key business management practices.
  2. Optimize business functions to ensure that the IHS is engaged in discussions on value-based purchasing.
  3. Develop policies, use tools, and apply models that ensure efficient use of assets and resources.
  4. Strengthen management and operations through effective oversight.
  5. Develop standardized management strategies for grants, contracts, and other funding opportunities to promote innovation and excellence in operations and outcomes.

Patient Education and Resources:

  1. Strengthen patient awareness of their health care options, including Medicaid and Medicare enrollment, which may increase access to health care and optimize third-party reimbursements.

Objective 3.3: Modernize information technology and information systems to support data driven decisions.

Objective Explanation: This objective is to assure the availability and ongoing improvement of a comprehensive IT system that meets the needs of providers, patients, and I/T/Us by using technology to provide improved, timely access to care and to reduce the need for transit. This objective recognizes that qualified and capable IT staff and leadership are fundamental to achieving the strategies listed below and further reinforce the workforce objectives outlined elsewhere in the IHS Strategic Plan.

An improved Indian health IT network fosters transparency, integration, and access to the clinical, administrative, and financial data necessary to support patient care, decision-making, and advocacy. This will require the development of a system integrated with Tribal and urban Indian programs that will address the current and projected clinical, administrative, and fiscal data needs. Timely fiscal data dissemination to all federal partners when developing budgets is necessary to accurately address health care needs of AI/AN communities. Data quality (i.e., accuracy, reliability, and validity) and quality patient care will continue to play a highly visible role both within and outside the IHS. Data quality is only partially dependent upon technology. Improved data quality also reflects other sustained initiatives, such as data entry accuracy, legibility of handwriting, appropriate and timely data exports, and coding accuracy.

Strategies – The following strategies support this objective:

Health Information Technology (HIT):

  1. Evaluate electronic health record needs of the IHS and the ability for the health information systems to meet those needs, create seamless data linkages, and meet data access needs for I/T/U health information systems.
  2. Develop a consistent, robust, stable, secure, state-of-the-art HIT system to support clinician workflow, improve data collection, increase transparency, and provide regular and ongoing data analysis.
  3. Modernize the HIT system for IHS Resource and Patient Management System or commercial off-the-shelf packages.
  4. Align with universal patient record systems to link off-reservation care systems that serve American Indians and Alaska Natives.
  5. Enhance and expand technology such as the IHS telecommunications to provide access for consultative care, stabilization of care, decreased transportation, and timeliness of care at any IHS-funded health program.

Data Process:

  1. Provide available data to inform I/T/U decision making.
  2. Act upon performance data and standardize data and reporting requirements.
  3. Assure system of data sharing to solidify partnerships with Tribal and urban Epidemiology Centers and other Tribal programs and UIOs.
  4. Establish capability for data federation[11] so that data analytics/business intelligence may be applied to disparate data stored in a single, general-purpose database that can hold many types of data and distribute that data to users anywhere on the network.

[11] Data federation provides an organization with the ability to aggregate data from disparate sources in a virtual database so it can be used for business intelligence or other analysis.