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HIE Lab Open for University of Texas Health IT Students

December 7, 2012
by Gabriel Perna
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The University of Texas’ health IT program is opening up a Health Information Exchange (HIE) laboratory, with funding from industry vendors Orion Health and Information Corporation of America (ICA). The laboratory will aim to train potential entry-level professionals in the health IT industry by simulating the exchange network developed by the Texas Health Services Authority (THSA).

The simulated network will include a “Central Texas Regional HIE” and “North Texas Regional HIE,” which will have mock practices located throughout the state that use cloud computing. The students will aim to exchange made-up patient data through these practices in both HIEs with standards-based Continuity of Care Documents (CCDs). The CCDs will summarize patient records including problems, medications, vital signs, past medical history, immunizations, laboratory and other orders and results.

"With the launch of our new HIE learning lab, UT Austin's Health IT Certificate students have the future of American health care in their hands.  Health information exchange is a critical step in improving the efficiency and effectiveness of the health care system in Texas and beyond.  I applaud the vision of our faculty and the enthusiastic support of our private sector partners in making this critical resource available to our students," William M. Sage, M.D., JD, vice provost for Health Affairs at the The University of Texas at Austin, said in a statement.

The laboratory is also a chance to test and prove key concepts, like interoperability, says Stephen Palmer, director of the Office of e-Health Coordination at Texas Health and Human Services Commission. The ultimate outcome for the students is jobs, says Michael Field, PMP, the HIE Laboratory Project Manager.

“Traditionally the only way to learn many of these skills was to get hired by a healthcare company and learn on the job.  This nine-week training program was based on input from multiple Health IT and healthcare partners and includes hands-on experience with the software, guest lecturers from industry, and a two-week practicum that places students in the field.  The results are exemplary--students are getting hired, and employers comment that certificate program graduates often know more on their first day than the existing employees do after years on the job,” Field said in a statement.

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Thank you for carrying this story in Healthcare Informatics!

FYI: the UT-Austin HIE Laboratory was funded by a grant from the Longhorn Innovation Fund for Technology. Orion and ICA generously donated their software, as did eClinicalWorks and e-MDs, to bring this laboratory to life. The university is very grateful for its industry partners who have helped make this possible.

More than 120 students and other Health IT professionals have used the HIE laboratory already - and another class of students will start January 7th. The Health IT Certificate Program has trained more than 330 students todate and it has a 92% job placement rate for those seeking employment in Health IT. Applications are still being accepted for the January class.

For more information, see:


Michael Field, PMP
HIT Project Manager
The University of Texas at Austin


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