Officials are touting the fact that students trained in health information technology have begun to graduate from certification programs created through the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act.
Through the $84 million Health IT Workforce Development Program, managed by the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC), the University of Texas at Austin created a summer certificate course for students to learn about electronic health records (EHRs), workflow management and clinical interfacing, and to work directly with providers and vendors. For completing the nine-week program, graduates are dubbed “health information manager and exchange specialists.”
Training the workforce is on the “fast track” because of the need for professionals who can help providers and vendors implement technology, said David Blumenthal, physician and national coordinator for health IT. Physicians have expressed concern about implementing EHRs.
ONC believes its program will help with the task. “All in all, the Health IT Workforce Development Program is expected to reduce the shortfall of skilled health IT professionals by 85%,” Blumenthal wrote in a message about the Texas graduates. “The highly trained and specialized personnel developed through these programs will play a critical role in supporting physicians nationwide as they transition to EHRs.”