The NIHB grant to fund Health Information Technology Implementation in Indian Country closed in April, 2015. Additional funding for the program is not currently available. The content on this page is provided for background and historical information, only.

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Who is the National HITECH REC?

The National Indian Health Board (NIHB) views health information technology (IT) as a major development leading to improvements in the next generation of healthcare for our nation’s American Indian and Alaska Native communities.  As an organization, NIHB is poised to advocate for policy decisions that will produce optimal outcomes for deployment of health IT in Native communities. Through the initial collaborative efforts of NIHB staff working with Area Indian Health Boards and Regional Tribal Health Organizations, we are now placed with the collective responsibility and opportunity to establish and support a national HITECH Center to serve the health IT needs and interests of Native communities across the country. 

In 2010, the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) funded 62 HITECH Regional Extension Centers (RECs) in every geographic region of the U.S.  NIHB received a cooperative agreement award to establish the American Indian/Alaska Native (AI/AN) Regional Extension Center (REC).  While most RECs serve a single state, the NIHB AI/AN REC is the only national center serving tribes and urban Indian populations located in 37 states throughout the U.S.  NIHB will need sustainable working partnerships with Tribes and Tribal Organizations, Urban Indian Organizations and the Indian Health Service (IHS) to make this project a success.

What are the Benefits of an Electronic Health Record?

Electronic health records and health information exchange can help clinicians provide higher quality and safer care for their patients.  By adopting electronic health records in a meaningful way, clinicians can:

  • Know more about their patients. Information in electronic health records can be used to coordinate and improve the quality of patient care.
  • Make better decisions.  With more comprehensive information readily and securely available, clinicians will have the information they need about treatments and conditions – even best practices for patient populations –when making treatment decisions. 
  • Save money.  Electronic health records require an initial investment of time and money. But clinicians who have implemented them have reported reductions in the amount of time spent locating paper files, transcribing and spending time on the phone with labs or pharmacies; more accurate coding; and reductions in reporting burden.

What Health IT and Electronic Health Records mean to you:

The nation is entering a new era of health care where patients and doctors can use electronic health records to improve health and the way health care is delivered in this country.
Electronic health records make it possible for you and your doctors to better manage your care through secure use and sharing of health information.  With electronic health records, doctors can have:

  • More accurate and complete information about your health and health care, enabling them to provide you with the best possible care.
  • The ability to better coordinate your care and your family’s care, as health information can be shared electronically and in a fast and convenient way.
  • Information to help them diagnose your health problems, reduce medical errors, and provide safer care at lower costs.

Electronic health records also allow you to experience more convenient care. For example, you won’t likely have to spend time filling out or answering the same questions about your health every time you visit the doctor or hospital, and you will be notified when you or your child needs preventive care such as vaccinations. 

Why Should IHS, Tribal and Urban Indian Health Organizations support NIHB AI/AN REC Activities?

  • Build local capacity to implement and manage health IT systems in Tribal communities.
  • Support development of local plans to meet health IT needs.
  • Develop local health IT workforce to serve future Tribal community needs.

One of the highest priorities of the NIHB AI/AN REC is to ensure direct health IT services are provided to Primary Care Providers serving their Tribal communities to:

  • Support implementation and use of certified Electronic Health Records by Providers in Indian Health Service/Tribal/Urban Indian (I/T/U) health facilities.
  • Support Providers in I/T/U health facilities to achieve Meaningful use of Electronic Health Records.

What is the relationship between Clinic Workflow and Meaningful Use of Electronic Health Records?


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