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Modernizing Indian Health Services

Modernizing Indian Health Services

Realized through the Wichita Tribal Enterprises and RESPEC Partnership

IHS Facilities Supported by the CSMT. These Federal, Tribal and Urban facilities have access to CSMT staff for help.

(Houston, TX July 2020) – The Indian Health Service (IHS) provides federal health care to more than 2 million American Indians and Alaska Natives (AI/AN) across the continental US. These services rely heavily on the Electronic Health Record (EHR) system, which is also known as the Resource and Patient Management System (RPMS). The RPMS is a suite of more than 60 clinical, administrative, and financial applications. The availability and reliability of the RPMS are key components of the healthcare delivery system. Wichita Tribal Enterprises, LLC (WTE) has teamed with RESPEC, Inc. (RESPEC) to provide continuous support for over 400 production and development databases and to healthcare facilities in 35 states. Support includes troubleshooting, configuration, installation, and hardware and has mainly been Tier 3 support that is provided when local site administrators have an issue that requires expert consultation and assistance. The support team also tests new versions and technology of the core software (Ensemble) for compatibility and functionality within the RPMS. The latest releases include HealthShare and IRIS. IRIS is the cloud version of HealthShare. Ticket activity averages approximately 100 tickets per month and our team provides 24/7 service to the IHS for critical systems.

Although the Scope of Work has changed and the support team’s official name in the IHS organization has varied over the past 6 years, IHS users frequently refer to the team with the previous contact efforts name; the CSMT (Computer System Management Team). In June 2020, WTE partnered with RESPEC to not only continue this level of support but significantly increase the Scope of Work beyond Tier 3 support. WTE and RESPEC are taking a leading role in IHS modernization by providing reliable cloud solutions in a combination of Azure commercial and government services. Our efforts include establishing new procedures and policies as well as creating security compliance processes and implementations that are submitted to IHS security to protect highly sensitive health information. As part of this initiative, the IHS healthcare delivery services and the Health Information Exchange (HIE) will be extended beyond the current physical network. By extending the IHS access to tribes that are not currently physically included in the IHS network, the IHS can extend its services to AI/ANs that have not been served before and improve the healthcare quality for this population.

Healthcare Providers Use EHR in Providing Care to Patients. Records are updated electronically and require a stable and reliable system to provide efficient and quality health care.

The team has already created one prototype called the four-dimensional hub (4DH), which is an information exchange for data interoperability among tribes and IHS with its own security. Four dimensions refers to the data directions that the 4DH can handle: in and out of tribe facilities and in and out of the IHS. For those tribes (approximately 40 percent) that have not previously been able to exchange data, the 4DH will make information exchange possible for the first time. The 4DH is expected to go into production in fiscal year 2021 and will allow IHS and tribal sites to securely exchange clinical healthcare information. WTE and RESPEC are currently testing and documenting the 4DH. The 4DH process, procedures, and policies will be a model for key components of the IHS modernization effort.Other areas in which the WTE and RESPEC team is taking the lead include establishing automated workflows, processes, systems, and system monitoring with auto-heal. Our team is addressing scope expansions including license management, which is expected to save IHS more than $7 million per year. The WTE and RESPEC team is also providing analytics and performance improvements related to the EHR implementations.

 Through excellent service, our team has become the go-to organization in IHS to resolve technology issues, test and implement new technologies, provide virtualized environments, and deliver performance improvements while complying with multiple compliance regulations.

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