Educational Funding for 12 Key Healthcare IT Workforce Roles On the Way!

Educational Funding for 12 Key Healthcare IT Workforce Roles On the Way!

Posted on 13. Apr, 2010 by in Education, Featured

Based on data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Department of Education, and independent studies, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) estimates a shortfall of approximately 51,000 qualified health IT workers over the next five years.  To that end, on Friday, April 2, 2010, the (HHS) announced awards totaling $84 million to 16 universities and junior colleges to help support the training and development of more than 50,000 new health IT professionals.

According to the original funding documents supplied by the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC), to fulfill the diverse needs of the health care delivery system including support for public health agencies, a total of 12 key healthcare IT workforce roles have been identified. Each role will require specific educational preparation. Six roles will require university-based training, and six will require six months of intense training, most likely in a community college or distance-learning setting.  Upon graduation, it is anticipated that those trained to fulfill these rolls will be able to support nationwide deployment of certified EHR technology and to provide support for the appropriate and secure use and disclosure of electronic health information to improve health, health care delivery, and protection of individuals’ privacy.

Because this program aims to rapidly increase the availability of individuals qualified to serve in specific health information technology professional roles requiring university-based training, this program will emphasize training programs that can be completed by their enrolled students in one year or less.

Here is the breakdown of the 12 roles identified by the ONC (text taken directly from ONC-provided documents):

University-Based Training

According to the ONC, this Funding Opportunity is designed to rapidly and sustainably increase the availability of individuals qualified to serve in specific health IT professional roles requiring university-level training. The colleges and universities listed below are charged with promptly establishing new and/or expanded training programs as rapidly as possible while assuring their graduates are well prepared to fulfill their chosen health IT professional roles. Many of these programs can be completed by the trainee in one year or less.

The six roles targeted by this program are:

1. Clinician/Public Health Leader:

By combining formal clinical or public health training with training in health IT, individuals in this role will be able to lead the successful deployment and use of health IT to achieve transformational improvement in the quality, safety, outcomes, and thus in the value, of health services in the United States.  In the health care provider settings, this role may be currently expressed through job titles such as Chief Medical Information Officer (CMIO), Chief Nursing Informatics Officer (CNIO).  In public health agencies, this role may be currently expressed through job titles such as Chief Information or Chief Informatics Officer.  Training appropriate to this role will require at least one year of study leading to a university-issued certificate or master’s degree in health informatics or health IT, as a complement to the individual’s prior clinical or public health academic training. For this role, the entering trainees may be physicians or other clinical professionals (e.g. advanced-practice nurses, physician assistants) or hold a master’s or doctoral degree(s) in public health or related health field. Individuals could also enter this training while enrolled in programs leading directly to degrees qualifying them to practice as physicians or other clinical professionals, or to master’s or doctoral degrees in public health or related fields (such as epidemiology).  Thus, individuals could be supported for training if they already hold or if they are currently enrolled in courses of study leading to physician, other clinical professional, or public-health professional degrees.

2.  Health Information Management and Exchange Specialist:

Individuals in these roles support the collection, management, retrieval, exchange, and/or analysis of information in electronic form, in health care and public health organizations.  We anticipate that graduates of this training would typically not enter directly into leadership or management roles.  We would expect that training appropriate to this role would require specialization within baccalaureate-level studies or a certificate of advanced studies or post-baccalaureate-level training in Health Information Management, health informatics, or related fields, leading to a university-issued certificate or master’s degree.

3. Health Information Privacy and Security Specialist:

Individuals in these roles support the collection, management, retrieval, exchange, and/or analysis of information in electronic form, in health care and public health organizations.  We anticipate that graduates of this training would typically not enter directly into leadership or management roles.  We would expect that training appropriate to this role would require specialization within baccalaureate-level studies or a certificate of advanced studies or post-baccalaureate-level training in Health Information Management, health informatics, or related fields, leading to a university-issued certificate or master’s degree.

4. Research and Development Scientist:

These individuals will support efforts to create innovative models and solutions that advance the capabilities of health IT, and conduct studies on the effectiveness of health IT and its effect on health care quality.  Individuals trained for these positions would also be expected to take positions as teachers in institutions of higher education including community colleges, building health IT training capacity across the nation.  We anticipate that training appropriate to this role will require a doctoral degree in informatics or related fields for individuals not holding an advanced degree in one of the health professions, or a master’s degree for physicians or other individuals holding a doctoral degree in any health professions for which a doctoral degree is the minimum degree required to enter professional practice.

5. Programmers and Software Engineer:

We anticipate that these individuals will be the architects and developers of advanced health IT solutions. These individuals will be cross-trained in IT and health domains, thereby possessing a high level of familiarity with health domains to complement their technical skills in computer and information science. As such, the solutions they develop would be expected to reflect a sophisticated understanding of the problems being addressed and the special problems created by the culture, organizational context, and workflow of health care.  We would expect that training appropriate to this role would generally require specialization within baccalaureate-level studies or a certificate of advanced studies or post-baccalaureate-level training in health informatics or related field, but a university-issued certificate of advanced training in a health-related topic area would as also seem appropriate for individuals with IT backgrounds.

6. Health IT Sub-specialist:

The ultimate success of health IT will require, as part of the workforce, a relatively small number of individuals whose training combines health care or public health generalist knowledge, knowledge of IT, and deep knowledge drawn from disciplines that inform health IT policy or technology. Such disciplines include ethics, economics, business, policy and planning, cognitive psychology, and industrial/systems engineering.   The deep understanding of an external discipline, as it applies to health IT, will enable these individuals to complement the work of the research and development scientists described above.  These individuals would be expected to find employment in research and development settings, and could serve important roles as teachers.  We would expect that training appropriate to this type of role would require successful completion of at least a master’s degree in an appropriate discipline other than health informatics, but with a course of study that closely aligns with health IT.  We would further expect that such individuals’ original research (e.g. master’s thesis) work would be on a topic directly related to health IT.

The following Colleges and Universities were granted awards for the Program of Assistance for University-Based Training:

Institution Funding Amount
Columbia University $3,786,677
University of Colorado Denver College of Nursing $2,622,186
Duke University $2,167,121
George Washington University $4,612,313
Indiana University $1,406,469
Johns Hopkins University $3,752,512
University of Minnesota $5,145,705
Oregon Health & Science University $3,085,812
Texas State University $5,421,205

Each institution is responsible for recruiting, selecting, and administering any student financial assistance that may be supported under the grant.

Community College Consortia

According to the ONC, academic programs under this Funding Opportunity may be offered through traditional on-campus instruction or distance learning modalities, or combinations thereof.

Training is designed to be completed within six months or less. The programs will be flexibly implemented to provide each trainee with skills and competencies that he/she does not already possess.  Training at all Consortium member colleges is expected to begin by September 30, 2010.  The anticipated training capacity of the Consortia as a whole is expected to be least 10,500 students annually.

The six roles supported by this program include:

Mobile Adoption Support Positions

These members of the workforce will support implementation at specific locations for a period of time, and when their work is done, will move on to new locations.  Workers in these roles might be employed by regional extension centers, providers, vendors, or state/city public health agencies, and would work together in teams.  Preparation for this set of roles will typically require six months of intense training for individuals with appropriate backgrounds.

1. Practice workflow and information management redesign specialist:

Workers in this role assist in reorganizing the work of a provider to take full advantage of the features of health IT in pursuit of meaningful use of health IT to improve health and care. Individuals in this role may have backgrounds in health care (for example, as a practice administrator) or in information technology, but are not licensed clinical professionals.  Workers in this role will:

  • Conduct user requirements analysis to facilitate workflow design
  • Integrate information technology functions into workflow
  • Document health information exchange needs
  • Design processes and information flows that accommodate quality improvement and reporting
  • Work with provider personnel to implement revised workflows

2. Clinician/practitioner consultant:

This role is similar to the “redesign specialist” role listed above but brings to bear the background and experience of a licensed clinical and professional or public health professional.   In addition to the activities noted above, workers in this role will:

  • Suggest solutions for health IT implementation problems in clinical and public health settings
  • Address workflow and data collection issues from a clinical perspective, including quality measurement and improvement
  • Assist in selection of vendors and software
  • Advocate for users’ needs, acting as a liaison between users, IT staff, and vendors

3. Implementation support specialist:

Workers in this role provide on-site user support for the period of time before and during implementation of health IT systems in clinical and public health settings.  The previous background of workers in this role includes information technology or information management. Workers in this role will:

  • Execute implementation project plans, by installing hardware (as needed) and configuring software to meet practice needs
  • Incorporate usability principles into design and implementation
  • Test the software against performance specifications
  • Interact with the vendors as needed to rectify problems that occur during the deployment process

4. Implementation manager:

Workers in this role provide on-site management of mobile adoption support teams for the period of time before and during implementation of health IT systems in clinical and public health settings.  Workers in this role will, prior to training, have experience in health and/or IT environments as well as administrative and managerial experience. Workers in this role will:

  • Apply project management and change management principles to create implementation project plans to achieve the project goals
  • Interact with office/hospital personnel to ensure open communication with the support team
  • Lead implementation teams consisting of workers in the roles described above
  • Manage vendor relations, providing feedback to health IT vendors for product improvement

Permanent Staff of Health Care Delivery and Public Health Sites

These roles are needed for ongoing support of health IT that has been deployed in office practices, hospitals, health centers, long-term care facilities, health information exchange organizations and state and local public health agencies.  Preparation for this set of roles will typically require six months of intense training for individuals with appropriate backgrounds.

5. Technical/software support staff:

Workers in this role maintain systems in clinical and public health settings, including patching and upgrading of software.  The previous background of workers in this role includes information technology or information management.  Workers in this role will:

  • Interact with end users to diagnose IT problems and implement solutions
  • Document IT problems and evaluate the effectiveness of problem resolution
  • Support systems security and standards

6. Trainer:

Workers in this role design and deliver training programs, using adult learning principles, to employees in clinical and public health settings.  The previous background of workers in this role includes experience as a health professional or health information management specialist.  Experience as a trainer in from the classroom is also desired. Workers in this role will:

  • Be able to use a range of health IT applications, preferably at an expert level
  • Communicate both health and IT concepts as appropriate
  • Assess training needs and competencies of learners
  • Design lesson plans, structuring active learning experiences for users
  • Track training records of the users and develop learning plans for further instruction

In April 2010, ONC awarded an estimated $36 million in cooperative agreements to five regional recipients to establish a multi-institutional consortium within each designated region.  The five regional consortia will include 70 community colleges in total. Each college will create non-degree training programs that can be completed in six months or less by individuals with appropriate prior education and/or experience.  First year grant awards are estimated at $36 million.  An additional $34 million is available for year two funding of these programs.

Recipients of cooperative agreements (lead awardees):

Region A B C D E
Lead Awardee of Consortium Bellevue College Los Rios Community College District Cuyahoga Community College District Pitt Community College Tidewater Community College
Year 1 Funding Allocation $3,364,798 $5,435,587 $7,531,403 $10,901,009 $8,492,793

NOTE: In researching this exciting development, two realizations became extremely apparent:

  1. What a daunting task this must have been! “Okay, committee members – all we have to do is identify the critical roles in healthcare IT moving forward and figure out how much it’s all going to cost, how long it should take, and who’s going to do it…”
  2. The ONC staff is SUPER responsive and helpful. After sending an SOS email for some guidance on where to start (these documents make for fascinating reading, but are a bit wordy – probably like many of my blog posts, eh?) I received a personal email with step-by-step instructions on how to proceed – big thanks to Rachel Nelson!

Interested in more information about the educational opportunities that will be funded by these initiatives?  Stay tuned to Healthcare IT Today and Healthcare IT Central – we will be among the first to profile each program as the information becomes available!

Gwen Darling

Gwen Darling is a Search Executive specializing in Healthcare IT, the Founder of Healthcare IT Central (the leading online Career Center for Healthcare IT job seekers and employers), and the Editor/Founder of Healthcare IT Today. Gwen also is a featured blogger for Healthcare Informatics magazine.

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16 Responses to “Educational Funding for 12 Key Healthcare IT Workforce Roles On the Way!”

  1. pharmacy technician

    15. Apr, 2010

    Wow this is a great resource.. I’m enjoying it.. good article

  2. David

    18. Apr, 2010

    I see nothing in the NE part of the country for the community college program.

  3. Gwen Darling

    19. Apr, 2010

    Hi David,

    The Community College program works like this:

    The grant money has been divided into 5 consortia, representing 5 regions of the US. Each funded consortium consists of a lead awardee and a number of identified member Community Colleges located within the region. The lead awardee is the direct recipient of the grant. The member Community Colleges will be supported through sub-awards from the lead awardee. The lead awardees are institutions of higher education that have a Health IT learning program currently in place and have certified to continue to operate their HIT programs for the full duration of the award. Funds for academic program development and training implementation can only be given to member Community Colleges.

    Collectively, the five regional consortia will have approximately 70 Community Colleges as members. To ensure that the program has broad geographic coverage of the nation, each region will have a target range for the number of member Community Colleges. These target ranges are based on the population of each region. Applicants must propose consortia within the target range for their selected region.

    The lead awardee for the NE region (Region “E”) is Tidewater Community College. From the ONC documents provided, it looks like 17 – 23 community colleges in the NE region will be sub-awardees. Hope this makes it more clear!

    Here’s a link to the entire document for more details:

    http://healthit.hhs.gov/portal/server.pt/gateway/PTARGS_0_11673_909400_0_0_18/CC_FOA_120409_final.doc

    As the specific community colleges are identified, I’ll report back here!

    G.

  4. Abhi

    25. Apr, 2010

    Hi Gwen,
    I would like to know where I can get more information about the individual courses that can avail these grants and the application process.
    Thanks
    Abhi

  5. Gwen Darling

    25. Apr, 2010

    Hi Abhi!

    We are hard at work building an Educational Directory on http://www.HealthcareITCentral.com, and will also profile new programs under the “Education” category here at Healthcare IT Today as soon as the information becomes available. Stay tuned!

    G.

  6. Laura

    29. Apr, 2010

    Who will teach all these new courses? And, who will develop the curriculum and lesson plans? It seems to me that lots of prep work need to take place to get ready for such a huge undertaking.

  7. Dr Deepali

    15. May, 2010

    Can we take these courses on line? what is the fee structure?

  8. Stimulus College Grant

    27. May, 2010

    The awards are also allocated to Upper level colleges. For example, and allocated Oregon Health & Science University to anyone outside of their state. I applied myself and I’m waiting for the results. The application must be in July 1, 2010 for the Fall Semester. It is 100% online and you don’t have to be an Oregon resident. This program will allow you to sit down after training of 12 months, to take the RHIA exam (registered health Information Administrator) at a salary of $45,000 annually. No former education is required.

  9. IT Prof

    28. Jun, 2010

    Does any one know what the salary range for each of these six job titles are? Will some one who is already an IT professional be able to make what they currently earn after taking these courses?

  10. Delphia

    15. Feb, 2011

    This program could be one more clone of any other course. With all the reviews of the course I’m beggining to wonder if any of the reviewers have even taken the course.

  11. Melinda Dixon

    01. Apr, 2011

    My background is software training and curriculum development. I have been home with my children for several years and am now ready to return to the workplace. I am interested in becoming an Epic trainer for a hospital. How can I get started if I am not already working for a hospital? Is it possible to get certified for Epic on my own?

  12. Gwen Darling

    04. Apr, 2011

    Hi Melinda!

    Shirley Corsey, one of our Healthcare IT Today bloggers and an Epic certified consultant, leads a Webinar that I think will interest you:

    “A “Guide” to EMR Vendor Certification – http://a3.acteva.com/orderbooking/bookEvent/A308294

    I encourage you to follow the link and review the Webinar’s syllabus, and feel free to register for the next session.

    G.

  13. Vicki

    07. Jul, 2011

    This is a great article. I am trying to move from a clinical background to Healthcare IT. I have 25 years of respiratory therapy experience but I am finding it hard to transition to the IT side. My IT experience is user based. Should I start by getting a certificate?

  14. Angela H.

    25. Oct, 2011

    Wonderful insight!!!

    Currently I am debating if I should attend a community college HIT program or a university based HIT program to prepare myself for consulting career. What are your advices?

  15. Gita V.

    27. Oct, 2011

    Very comprehensive post.
    Of course it lands itself to more questions.
    I am not sure where I would fit in among these categories. I have MS in Biology with over 11 years of R & D experience. I also have 7 years of web design and development experience. I am sincerely thinking about getting Post Master’s certificate HI at UIC. But I would like a clearer idea of what kind of jobs and salary range can be looking at in two years. I would appreciate input from recent grads, current students as well as people employed in this industry and anyone with insight in this field. Thank you.

  16. Fred

    27. Nov, 2011

    Hello, I am glad that I found this site. I am presently applying to Duke University for the post-graduate certificate in Healthcare Informatics. I have also applied for some of the grant monies that you mentioned.

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