Rush plans health IT training program for veterans

Startled by the numbers of veterans coming home with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and traumatic brain injury--and the high rates of unemployment among veterans--Rush University Medical Center has decided to do something about it.

Rush Information Services is providing a six-month stipend during which Chicago-area veterans will be trained for entry-level positions in healthcare IT. Their work will be focused on swapping out PCs with virtual devices that provide better user access and security, as well as save money for the healthcare system. But it's not about providing a short-term IT work force for Rush, Jaime Parent, Associate CIO & VP of Information Services writes in a post at healthsystemCIO.com, it's about training veterans to land jobs with other employers.

Those coming into the program with higher-level IT skills will quickly be given more challenging work, he says. Spouses and children 18 or older of veterans in long-term care will be eligible for the program, as well.

Rush will be working with community colleges and vendors to create opportunities in health IT for veterans and their families to learn new healthcare-based IT skills, with the goal of making them competitive and employable in three to six months.

In a report last spring, the Institute of Medicine said the U.S. Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs have done too little to smooth the way for the 2.2 million U.S. troops returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.

Indeed, veterans' higher use of emergency rooms was attributed to "life circumstances" in a study published online in April by the Annals of Emergency Medicine.

"Our findings defy the common assumption that once patients have ongoing medical care and health insurance their ER use will drop off. Instead, it appears that improved health outcomes may be realized through increased spending on social services, such as housing subsidies and income supplements," lead study author Kelly Doran, M.D., of the Yale University School of Medicine, said in a statement.

The VA has been at the forefront of developing new technologies to treat veterans with PTSD and TBI, most recently rolling out initiatives to provide services through mobile devices.

Yet, an Institute of Medicine report from July 2012 blasted the VA, as well as the U.S. Department of Defense, for failing to track all their different PTSD treatment programs and their effectiveness.

To learn more:
- read the healthsystemCIO.com post

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