The House today approved legislation that would help fund college and masters level education in healthcare informaticsa move federal lawmakers say will help advance the use of electronic health records and bring greater transparency and quality to the industry.
The bill, sponsored by Rep. David Wu (D-Ore.), is in answer to the repeated call for an interconnected system of electronic health records, e-prescribing and other health information technology. But while everyone is talking about adopting these systems, no one is addressing the workforce concerns, Wu said. We need curriculum to support an emerging specialty in healthcare informatics and programs to train current doctors and nurses. Education is key to digitizing the healthcare industry.
Provisions in the bill would allow the National Science Foundation to award grants to colleges for health informatics research and would establish health and medical informatics research centers. The bill would also allow the NSF to reward schools that boost their health IT programs.
In 2000, the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimated that 136,000 Americans were employed as health information management professionals, adding that another 49% would be needed by 2010.
The bill will now go the Senate. -- by Matthew DoBias