Despite health IT jobs being among the hottest careers for college graduates in 2010, there is a shortage of qualified health IT professionals. The Office of the National Coordinator (ONC) for Health Information Technology estimates a shortfall of approximately 50,000 qualified health IT workers over the next five years.
To help address this expected shortage, the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act authorized the creation of a program to assist in the establishment or expansion of health IT education programs. Under this authority, ONC established the Community College Consortia to Educate Health Information Professionals program, which provides funds for community colleges to create intensive, non-degree health IT training programs. These are designed for people already involved in the fields of health care or information technology, and will give them the skills they need to assist with the rapid and effective adoption of health IT.
More than 70 member community colleges have received $36 million in grants under the program. Its goal is for participating community colleges to have the collective capacity to train approximately 10,500 people annually by 2012, with a focus on six priority health IT workforce roles:
- Practice-workflow and information-management redesign specialists
- Clinician and practitioner consultants
- Implementation support specialists
- Implementation managers
- Technical and software support
The Community College Consortia is part of the Health IT Workforce Development Program, administered by the ONC.