The National Indian Health Board (NIHB) Regional Extension Center (REC) is entering its final project year as reported in the April 2013 Indian Health Service Office of Information Technology Newsletter. To date, the NIHB REC has signed up 3,036 Primary Care Providers working in Indian Health System facilities to receive REC health IT services. As of December 31, 2012, CMS reported $13,661,659 in CMS EHR incentive payments to providers that signed up with the NIHB REC. As of February 28, 2013, the NIHB REC has allocated $8.7 million to its Sub-Recipient organizations to deliver “boots-on-the-ground” EHR and meaningful use services to providers throughout the Indian Health System.
The NIHB REC’s Sub-Recipients in United South and Eastern Tribes, ANTHC, California Rural Indian Health Board, and Portland Area Indian Health Board have used the funds to acquire the services of health IT professionals to deliver EHR and MU services to providers in all 12 Indian Health Service areas. Most of these services have been delivered through close working partnerships with IHS EHR and MU teams.
Anticipating the increasing demand for health IT specialists to serve Indian Country in the next ten years, the NIHB REC entered into an agreement late 2012 with the American Indian Higher Education Consortium (AIHEC) to pilot a Native Health IT Workforce Program in the nation’s Tribal Colleges and Universities.
AIHEC implemented a RFP open to all Tribal Colleges and as a result, Oglala Lakota College in Kyle, South Dakota was selected to pilot the project. The initial course for this project will be offered at the college in the 2013 fall term.
The NIHB REC also has another new initiative called the e-Native Consumer Health Initiative. This will enable NIHB REC to implement an initiative to deliver e-Native Patient presentations and training sessions at local, regional, and national Native Health Conferences.