Why Interoperability is Critical to the Indian Health Service’s Health IT Modernization

The Indian Health Service (IHS) has a vision: to build healthy communities among the more than 2.6 million American Indians and Alaska Natives across 547 Tribes, by providing quality healthcare systems in a modern architecture using best-in-breed products.

The Service’s Health Information Technology Modernization (HIT MOD) initiative is an important step toward realizing that vision by seeking to leverage a robust, interoperable suite of solutions that will enable IHS to provide services that are more responsive, sensitive to the needs of its constituents, and culturally and socioeconomically appropriate.

It’s a complex logistical undertaking, one that aims to stand up a true connected network across autonomous stakeholders, where electronic health records (EHR) and other legacy records must be accurately reported and delivered seamlessly to healthcare teams that are awash in disconnected data. This is especially critical for the IHS: respecting Tribal sovereignty means that IHS cannot dictate the choice of EHR platform, but must still facilitate “anywhere, anytime, user-friendly” access to health information. The bottom line: generate improved, more equitable health outcomes. The stakes and immediacy are clear.

Stretching the limits of interoperability

The HIT MOD initiative presents an opportunity to stretch the limits of interoperability by implementing a platform that embraces heterogeneous technologies (whether open source or commercial off-the-shelf (COTS)), where each system fulfills a well-defined role within the ecosystem architecture and data flows openly throughout IHS and its Tribal partners.

A comprehensive modernization program starts with acquiring a high-quality EHR replacement; but while the EHR itself is perhaps largest component, it is just one element of the overall HIT solution. The right team for IHS should be led by an experienced mission capability integrator, a partner obsessively focused on the desired outcomes driving the modernization. A key partner can guide the effort from start to finish, working with IHS to make every critical decision along the way while planning for its continued maintenance, evolution, and success.

A harmonized approach: Peraton’s Digital Interoperability Hub

Peraton’s Digital Interoperability Hub (P-DIH) is a difference maker for IHS. It was designed to bring order and structure to a digital health ecosystem where data is currently siloed and care processes are not shared across boundaries. Peraton focused on building cohesion across established solutions and making data actionable regardless of where it came from to provide a functional, harmonized ecosystem.

A solution that can leverage data no matter where it is and consolidate information into a single patient record enables doctors to detect emerging risks faster and with greater accuracy. P-DIH normalizes the data for semantically harmonized patient records to overcome socioeconomic disparities, which leads to smarter analytics and better health outcomes, reducing the burden on clinicians while increasing patient satisfaction and long-term health solutions.

P-DIH is unencumbered by outdated technology. It protects Tribal sovereignty by futureproofing the ecosystem, facilitating a seamless interoperability between systems, and allowing shared Indian Health Services, Tribal, and Urban Indians (I/T/U) governance.

Providing patients and health professionals with real-time access to quality data results in better health equity, outcomes, and improved patient satisfaction. That means enhanced operational performance and reporting benchmarks and total buy-in from both clinicians and the I/T/U communities. By enabling a bi-directional patient data exchange between the new IHS system, Resource and Patient Management System (RPMS), and all legacy Tribal systems, IHS can deliver care without boundaries.

Why Peraton?

Peraton has supported the Department of Veterans Affairs’ health information technology systems for two decades, building a track record of championing benefit recipients by facilitating transformational solutions tailored to their unique needs. Today, the company is a critical partner in the VA’s ongoing HIT modernization effort, with a focus on ensuring that data flows between legacy and new systems and providing visibility into the longitudinal care of VHA patients.

Peraton’s seven-fold expansion in 2021 enabled the company to provide comprehensive, holistic, enterprise IT solutions—to be the single point of contact and a one-stop shop for agency needs—including health IT modernization with cloud capability and improved user experiences.

Peraton’s own transformation positions it to better optimize federal agency IT ecosystems and leverage key sector healthcare and IT leaders to drive the delivery, operation, maintenance, and continuous improvement of differentiated technical solutions—and do the can’t be done for the Indian Health Service.

Peraton provides cutting-edge analytics to inform and support decision makers leading our national health priorities.

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