VA, Indian Health Service outline new plan for improving care with IT
Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and the Indian Health Service (IHS) have signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to improve the health status of American Indian and Alaska Native veterans, officials announced Tuesday. The MOU includes improving care though the development of health information technology.
Officials said the IHS-VA MOU outlines a new plan for enhanced coordination, collaboration and resource-sharing that will draw on the strengths and expertise of the two agencies.
"This memorandum of understanding is a renewal of the important partnership between the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Indian Health Service. It represents VA's commitment to American Indian and Alaska Native Veterans through associations with the Indian Health Service and tribal facilities throughout the nation," said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki. "The partnership further expands VA's capability to serve those Veterans within their communities and provides increased access for Veterans in extremely rural areas."
This will be accomplished by increasing available services, improving the delivery of care by sharing programs, developing new models of care using the latest technologies, providing culturally competent care for beneficiaries, and increasing the quality of care though training and workforce development, officials said.
The MOU outlines developments including:
- Sharing of technology
- Joint development of applications and technologies.
- Adaptation of applications and technologies developed by one agency to permit use by the other.
- Mechanisms for the exchange of funds to support this adaptation and sharing.
- Interoperability of systems to facilitate sharing of information on common patients and populations.
- The VA and IHS will develop processes to share information regarding planned development of applications and technologies to facilitate this collaboration.
- The VA and IHS will develop standard, pre-approved language for inclusion in sharing agreements to support this collaboration.
The MOU also states that organizations will enhance access through the development and implementation of new models of care using new technologies, including:
- Tele-health services such as tele-psychiatry and tele-pharmacy.
- Services using mobile communication technologies.
- Enhanced telecommunications infrastructure to support collaboration in remote areas.
- Sharing of training programs and materials supporting these models of care.
- Sharing of knowledge gained from testing of new models of care.
"This MOU between the IHS and VA provides a firm foundation for collaboration to meet the needs of the AI/AN Veterans who have served our nation," said Yvette Roubideaux, IHS director. "It is an important step forward in our work to better serve all American Indian and Alaska Native people."