Indian Health Service Health IT Modernization

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Listening to people is a critical step in the design process. Purposefully embedding research processes rooted in empathy and equity into tech design helps ensure products help people; we strive to uncover insights from research that is inclusive and people-focused.


The Resource and Patient Management System, or RPMS, is currently employed to manage clinical, financial, and administrative information in the Indian health system.  RPMS was developed in close partnership with the Veterans Health Administration and has been partially dependent on the development of the VA health IT system, known as VistA.  By adapting VistA, IHS minimizes costs of developing and maintaining the system.

Last year, the VA publicly announced a decision to replace VistA with a new, vendor-based system.  Consequently, IHS accelerated efforts to re-evaluate health IT priorities and options.

The Project

The project led by the HHS Office of the CTO will develop recommendations for a modern health IT system which will address clinical, process, and technical gaps for improving outcomes in the Indian health system. 

Stakeholder input will be required at several stages over the tenure of the project. This will ensure that the voice of tribal members and leaders is incorporated into the project’s recommendations. The project is slated to end in September, 2019.

Project components:

  • Project planning and strategy
  • Convening an expert advisory panel on IHS health information technology
  • Assessment of current health information technology in a sample of IHS, tribal and urban sites
  • Developing a health IT community of practice
  • Health information technology analysis and recommendations
  • Health information technology initiatives roadmap and strategy

Ultimately, tribes, tribal organizations, and urban Indian organizations should be included in the process at every step.  Comments offered at a listening session regarding RPMS continue to inform the current project as it moves forward.

The Office of the Chief Technology Officer seeks to utilize technological innovations to advance the mission of HHS. This project falls directly in-line with that goal by looking critically at how IT within IHS can be improved. Furthermore, the project aligns with the White House initiative to modernize federal IT.

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Key Deliverables

  1. Legacy Assessment*
  2. Analysis of Alternatives*
  3. Strategic Options for the Modernization of the Indian Health Service Health Information Technology Final Report*
  4. Strategic Options for the Modernization of the Indian Health Service Health Information Technology Roadmap Executive Summary*
  5. Infographic: HHS/IHS HIT Modernization Project
  6. Telling Complex User Stories: The Indian Health Service Health IT Case Study

* This content is in the process of Section 508 review. If you need immediate assistance accessing this content, please submit a request to [email protected]. Content will be updated pending the outcome of the Section 508 review.

Blog Posts and Ways to Learn More

Listening to Real People is a Critical Step in the Solution Design Process - The Indian Health Service Health IT Use Case

Case Study: User-centered design helped improve health systems for rural populations

Indian Health Service Strategic Options for the Modernization of Health Information Technology Final Report and Roadmap Supports Health Facility Operations

IHS Modernization: Focus on the patients and the Data will follow

Indian Health Service IT Modernization: Using Human-Centered Design to Improve Government Systems

HHS Chief Technology Officer Announces Health IT Research Project at Indian Health Service

Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) Workstream

Learn more about the Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) Workstream
Content created by Office of the Chief Technology Officer (CTO)
Content last reviewed on May 15, 2020