Saturday, May 12, 2012

ONC Health IT Curriculum: Version 3 and Beyond

Although my last update of the ONC Health IT Curriculum project was relatively recently, there is much news to report, warranting another posting. Some background information for understanding some of the details in this posting in available in a prior posting announcing the availability of Version 2 of the curriculum. It should be remembered that while these curricular materials are freely available to anyone, they are really more designed for educators than students. There is nothing to keep any student from anywhere from downloading them, but they are less designed to be a health IT curriculum "out of the box" and more designed for instructors to develop into materials for specific learners, with additional perspectives, exercises, and even wisdom to be added accordingly.

Probably the most important news is the release of Version 3 of the curriculum. This will be the final version of the curriculum released under the original ONC Health Curriculum Development Centers Program grant. Version 3 is available to anyone to freely download from the National Training & Dissemination Center (NTDC) Web site.

The uncompressed size of the Version 3 materials is 11.2 gigabytes, contained in 18,072 files. As noted in the table below, the 20 components of the curriculum contain 9,974 Powerpoint slides and audio lasting over 136 hours (5 days, 16 hours, and 4 minutes, to be precise!). The NTDC search engine for the text-based files contains 38,181 unique words indexed. A manually constructed topical index is also available.

Of course, not all of the curriculum consists of narrated slides. There are also exercises, including those involving hands-on use of an educational version of VistA for Education (VFE), a fully functional version of the VA VistA electronic health record system, which is also included with the materials. A screen shot of VFE is shown below.

Some additional good news is each of the five universities in the program have been awarded a no-cost extension (NCE) to continue work on the project. In the case of OHSU, this will extend our grant through December 31, 2012. During the NCE time period, we will continue to provide support via the NTDC as well as prepare updates of the components for which we are responsible. Another activity during the NCE period will be to enhance VFE, including exploring the option of providing a fully open-source version that runs on all versions of Windows. (The current version requires a license for Intersystems Cache, which is only freely available to educational institutions.)

A final activity of the five Curriculum Development Centers during the NCE period will be to explore options for sustainability of the curricular materials beyond the end of the NCE period. We are investigating options to obtain funding to maintain, support, and extend the materials while continuing to make this resource freely available.

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