The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology announced April 15th that 2,280 health information technology professionals will graduate this month from the Community College Consortia to Educate Health IT Professionals program, with 3,000 graduates expected by the end of summer.
Program graduates are part of a broader ONC workforce development program that also includes university based training, health IT competency examinations and the development of a health IT curriculum for use in institutions of higher education. These Community College Consortia graduates represent a portion of the initial health IT workforce that will be trained through the workforce development program this year.
[See also: Community colleges should be tapped for HIT experts.]
The announcement highlights the growth of a new workforce filling a critical need for the health IT professionals necessary to help health care providers and hospitals nationwide improve the overall health of their patients through using health IT. Many graduates of the Community College Consortia program are mid-career professionals with prior backgrounds in health care or information technology.
The training provides these professionals with the knowledge to work with providers and hospitals to adopt and achieve meaningful use of electronic health records (EHRs). These new professionals will also be trained to work with EHR vendors to implement EHR systems in provider and hospital settings.
“Training the professionals to support the growing health IT industry is a critical step toward ensuring that health care providers large and small are successful in their adoption and meaningful use of health IT” said Farzad Mostashari, MD, National Coordinator for Health IT. “The workforce development programs represent a comprehensive approach to addressing the needs of the entire health care industry. The programs are designed to deliver highly qualified professionals who are proficient in every level of the health care delivery system.”
The Recovery Act appropriated $2 billion for health IT programs, including funding for workforce development programs intended to address a need for 50,000 more health IT professionals nationwide. Recovery Act funds support several key health IT professional development initiatives authorized by the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act provisions of the Recovery Act.