AMIA looks to workforce of the future

Some 24,000 people have completed training through ONC's Health IT Workforce Development Program
By Neil Versel
06:32 AM
AMIA looks to workforce of the future

If hospital chief information officers and vendor hiring managers think it's tough to find qualified health IT workers now, just wait until technology implementation moves beyond EHR installation, data capture and moderate interoperability to a full-blown effort to transform a broken healthcare industry.

Those who are training the workforce of the future are having to adapt to the impending changes almost as much as would-be health IT professionals, attendees of the annual American Medical Informatics Association conference heard here Tuesday.

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Less than five years after passage of the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act that, among other things, appropriated $500 million for health IT training and workforce development, curriculum for those training programs already needs to be updated.

The Midwest Community College Health IT Consortium, based at Cuyahoga Community College in Cleveland, convened subject-matter experts earlier this year, including CIOs and human resources managers, to ask what new skills and knowledge they were looking for. The consortium decided on four core competencies for six-month health IT certificate programs: understanding the change management and team-based care needed for the patient-centered medical home model; meaningful use of EHRs; population management; and health information exchange, said Norma Morganti, executive director of the consortium.

"Managing change is a huge, huge, competency in all of these areas, including meaningful use," Morganti said.

The consortium subsequently developed a workforce competency tool that is available by sending a request to helpdesk@hitrc.org. This is a "discrete roadmap" for schools to follow in designing curriculum for health IT training, according to Morganti, one that she said has been aligned with secondary, role-based frameworks on the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology's website.

The consortium also has created four hours of e-learning modules to support practice transformation and recently completed an introduction to Lean management principles for the patient-centered medical home, Morganti reported.

"I wanted to emphasize one thing: F-R-E-E. All these resources are free," interjected Judy Murphy, RN, the deputy national coordinator for programs and policy at ONC. Murphy said the Department of Veterans Affairs has been able to train thousands of employees with the free curriculum, downloadable at www.onc-ntdc.org.

ONC also reported that 24,000 people have completed community college-based health IT training programs through the Health IT Workforce Development Program.