RPMS Awarded Meaningful Use Certification

One of the most poorly-funded federal agencies, the Indian Health Service (IHS), has defied the odds once again and it has become the first federal agency to have its health information system certified for Meaningful Use. 

IHS Director Yvette Roubideaux announced “the Indian Health Service is very proud to be the first federal agency to earn this certification, which is based on industry standards.” She emphasized that RPMS will “help us provide quality health care delivery to patients in the Indian health system,” adding that the “monetary incentives made available by this certification will also benefit IHS, tribal, and urban Indian health facilities.”

IHS provides cradle-to-grave health care to a service population of more than 2 million American Indians and Alaska Natives who reside in 35 states. The RPMS EHR is operational at over 280 IHS, tribal, and urban Indian health care facilities nationwide.

Achieving this certification should provide valuable funding to IHS. Under the provisions of the Recovery Act, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), is authorized to offer incentive payments, beginning this year, to hospitals and eligible providers demonstrating meaningful use of certified EHR technology. The underfunded agency may now be able to use these incentives to provide valuable additional resources to improve health care throughout the Indian health system.

For decades IHS has been at the forefront of health information technology. It has managed to use information technology, and a highly-dedicated staff, to leverage the little funding they receive from Congress to provide high quality medical care to American Indians. This story was detailed in a recent article in the AHIMA Online Research Journal titled “Innovation in Indian Healthcare: Using Health Information Technology to Achieve Health Equity for American Indian and Alaska Native Populations.”

RPMS is a fully-featured EHR and hospital information system. A comprehensive review of its capabilities can be found here. The benefits of RPMS go far beyond IHS, as it has been successfully deployed outside of the agency. The best known such deployment is in West Virginia at the Community Health Network where it is running at more than 40 facilities.

Details of this deployment can be found in this Charleston Gazzette article, as well as several other pieces such as this op ed piece by Dr. Ken Kizer and Peter Groen, and this article by Dr. Sarah Chouinard. Dr. Chouinard, a champion in the use of EHR's in healthcare and a major force behind he deployment of RPMS across West Virginia, was named 2008's “Outstanding Rural Health Practitioner" of the year.

The deployment of RPMS in West Virginia's clinics was so successful that it prompted Senator Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) to introduce legislation in 2009 to “facilitate nationwide adoption of electronic health records, particularly among small, rural providers.” Unfortunately this bill was defeated by tens of millions of dollars worth of lobbying unleashed by proprietary EHR vendors that did not want to compete with a superior open source EHR for federal funds.

With RPMS now certified for Meaningful Use, perhaps it is now time for Congress to revisit Senator Rockefeller's bill and for community health centers and other clinics to take a look at what this world-class open source EHR can do.