Health Resources and Services Administration Administrator Mary Wakefield on Monday announced that her agency and the U.S. Labor Department have signed an agreement to use existing resources at community colleges and technical colleges (PDF) to support the training of health information technology professionals at rural hospitals and clinics.
HRSA, Labor Department sign health IT training agreement
According to the agreement, HRSA and the Labor Department's Employment and Training Administration—as well as HHS' Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology—will use their respective resources to promote a health IT workforce that is available in sufficient numbers and skills to support rural health IT needs, and that is also actively employed supporting those rural health IT needs.
The Labor Department and HHS “have resources in place that provide opportunities to train individuals for health IT jobs, to promote nationwide efforts to adopt health IT and use it in a meaningful way to make high-quality, affordable healthcare more available to all Americans,” said the memorandum of understanding. While the agreement does not authorize any funding for this effort, it said that each of the departments will identify its own resources to implement its objectives.
Some of the collaborative efforts include encouraging enrollment in health IT workforce training programs, such as ONC's Community College Consortia program; urging educational institutions to provide health IT workforce training, especially those with enrollment and outreach in rural communities; and distributing existing curricula and tools that meet the needs of potential workers (such as continuing health IT education for all healthcare professionals).
A HRSA spokeswoman said in an e-mail that HRSA does not have an estimate of how many jobs will come from this effort. “HHS' target is to train 10,500 students nationwide through the Community College Consortia program by March 2012 and 1,700 students through the university-based training program by July 2013,” she added. The memorandum of understanding “will help achieve these targets by increasing the number of community colleges offering the curriculum across the country.”
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