The Indian Health Service and NASA will partner in developing improvements to the clinical information technology system developed by the IHS.
The two federal agencies have signed a joint agreement under which NASA will use the Resource and Patient Management System developed by the IHS as the basis for an occupational health tracking system. The system will be used by NASA's Office of the Chief Health and Medical Officer.
The IHS, a division of HHS, provides medical care to about 1.5 million American Indians and Alaska natives in 35 states.
Its clinical IT system was founded in 1984 on the Decentralized Hospital Computer Program then under develop-ment by the Department of Veterans Affairs.
The VA's computer system, now called Vista, is similar to, but not entirely compatible with, the IHS system because of a lack of coordination between the two government agencies as they independently developed the systems.
NASA looked at computerized health systems used in both the public and private sectors before making its choice, which was based on functionality, applicability and cost.
NASA will develop an occupational health module that will be incorporated into the IHS software and shared with other government agencies.
"NASA's decision to institute an (electronic health record) was driven by its desire for a fuller understanding of the health status of (its) workforce and as part of an agencywide initiative aimed at standardizing healthcare delivery and improving the care of all its employees," Richard Williams, M.D., the space agency's chief health and medical officer, said in a prepared statement.
David Brailer, M.D., the national healthcare IT coordinator, in the same statement, called the agreement "a prime example of how the government can share technology across agencies and departments in an effort to unify architectures and benefit from other successful implementation models."