ONC training materials help to close health IT worker gap

The teaching materials used to train health IT professionals in community colleges have been made publicly available, the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC) announced last week. The aim of the release is to help reduce the expected shortfall of 50,000 health IT professionals nationwide.

Under a $10 million ONC program authorized by the 2009 HITECH Act, five universities developed the training materials. They included Columbia University, Duke University, Johns Hopkins University, Oregon Health and Science University and the University of Alabama-Birmingham.

The 82 community colleges in the program have received $68 million in federal funds to conduct their courses. In addition, ONC has dispensed $32 million to universities for more intensive health IT training. Under the latter program, 1,500 people are expected to receive advanced degrees.

The first 3,000 students in the ONC Community College Consortia Program recently graduated from the participating institutions. Another 10,000 are expected to complete their non-degree programs by the end of the year. The purpose of the training is to enable the graduates to help physician practices implement and manage electronic health records.

The curriculum includes 20 components covering such topics as workflow process redesign, technical support, networking, usability, and project management. The courses also offer hands-on lab experience, using the VistA for Education EHR package.

To learn more:
- read the Government Health IT article
- see the ONC notice about the Curriculum Development Centers Program
- here's more information about ONC's Health IT Workforce Development Program
- read the HHS announcement about graduates of the program