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Healthcare IT Pro - the Stimulus Certifications

It's estimated that more than 50,000 people will be needed over the next five years to support the move to electronic health records. About 80 community colleges are currently involved in the effort to train and certify them.

In 2009 Congress passed and the President signed into law the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). It included a provision commonly known as the HITECH Act. HITECH provided an estimated $19 billion in funding for electronic health records (EHR). It's estimated that more than 50,000 people will be needed over the next five years to support the move from paper-based records to EHR.

To help meet the growing demand for health IT professionals, the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) funded the Workforce Development Program. The goal of the program is to train a new workforce of skilled health IT professionals who will be able to help providers implement EHR and achieve meaningful use.

The Workforce Program consists of four initiatives:

Through a competitive grant process, five community colleges were designated to lead the Community College Consortia in their region. This effort included soliciting the involvement of other community colleges in the development of healthcare IT programs. There are currently about eighty community colleges in the country participating in this effort.

There are currently six Healthcare IT certifications offered under this project:

    • Practice Workflow & Information Management Redesign Specialist
    • Clinician/Practitioner Consultant
    • Implementation Manager
    • Implementation Support Specialist
    • Technical/Software Support Staff
    • Trainer

The participants involved in the development of the curriculum for these certification paths included a broad range of quality academic institutions, including Columbia University, Duke University, Johns Hopkins University, Oregon Health & Science University, and the University of Alabama at Brimingham. The curriculum can be downloaded from the National Training and Dissemination Center (NTDC) website.

Does HIT Pro Certification Make Sense for Career Enhancement?

The process involved in obtaining IT-related certifications often involves both the expense of time and money. I approach certifications in much the same manner as I approach other business decisions. That is with a focused on “return on investment” (ROI). One way I determine their value is to look at career job boards like Dice to determine whether there are job announcements where specific certifications are identified as requirements for employment. This approach has recently guided my focus on certifications that relate to security and virtualization.