The consortia training program, launched a year ago by the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT, was intended to address the need to add 50,000 more health IT professionals to the workforce as America converts to a healthcare system driven by electronic health records and a national health information exchange. Even though 82 community colleges around the country have offered the six-month health IT training programs with many successes, the consortia has also dealt with a lion’s share of challenges, which are discussed in the cover story of the September issue of the Journal of AHIMA.
Initially, the accelerated development schedule resulted in a slow start for the consortia and a lower than expected number of graduating students. However, ONC predicts the program is on track to meet its goal of training 10,500 health IT professionals by April 2012, through the five regional consortia organized to implement and run the training programs.
While the consortia experienced myriad start-up challenges, this article highlights a few of the ongoing problems.
- The programs are designed to be completed in six months but many students are taking longer to finish their studies. Now colleges are encouraging students to stick to the time frame while tying tuition reimbursement to on-time completion.
- The program is not meant for people just starting out in healthcare or IT. Program requirements are necessary because consortia training is intended to further expertise by expanding students’ medical or IT knowledge, not develop it from scratch.
- Promoting the fact that consortium graduates have the skills to aid providers with health IT issues has been challenging. ONC is now actively partnering with regional extension centers to promote both the consortia education program and its graduates.
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