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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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