Indian Health Service Innovations Have Helped Reduce Health Disparities Affecting American Indian And Alaska Native People

Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women' s Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts, USA.
Health Affairs (Impact Factor: 4.97). 10/2011; 30(10):1965-73. DOI: 10.1377/hlthaff.2011.0630
Source: PubMed


The Indian Health Service (IHS), a federal health system, cares for 2 million of the country's 5.2 million American Indian and Alaska Native people. This system has increasingly focused on innovative uses of health information technology and telemedicine, as well as comprehensive, locally tailored prevention and disease management programs, to promote health equity in a population facing multiple health disparities. Important recent achievements include a reduction in the life-expectancy gap between American Indian and Alaska Native people and whites (from eight years to five years) and improved measures of diabetes control (including 20 percent and 10 percent reductions in the levels of low-density lipoprotein cholesterol and hemoglobin A1c, respectively). However, disparities persist between American Indian and Alaska Native people and the overall US population. Continued innovation and increased funding are required to further improve health and achieve equity.

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    • "These findings accord with Canadian data revealing higher prevalences of cardiovascular disease [43], heart failure [44], and diabetes [26]. While some progress has been made towards addressing these disparities [12], [45], [46], profound differences remain between the health status of Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people. "
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