Saturday, September 28, 2013

ONC Funding for the OHSU Informatics Program: Coming to an End

It almost seems like yesterday when I woke up on the morning of April 2, 2010 to find out that OHSU had been awarded $5.8 million for two health information technology (HIT) workforce development grants by the office of the National Coordinator for HIT (ONC), one to serve as the lead among five universities in developing the national HIT curriculum for community college programs and the other for funding students in the University-Based Training (UBT) program aiming to accelerate the growth of the HIT workforce.

Now it is hard to believe that next week, at the end of this month, the second of our two grants will end, and our program will no longer have any direct funding from ONC. (The curriculum development grant ended in March. And technically while we have through the end of December to continue graduating students, the funding portion of the grant is ending on September 30, 2013.)

Overall, I am proud of the work we accomplished with this funding and the contributions we made to the field. While the curricular materials are sitting in a static mode on our Web site, they are still freely available and provide a foundation for anyone wishing to develop an educational program in HIT. In addition, the materials have found many uses beyond the community college programs, including in our own graduate program at OHSU. Before long, however, the materials will require updating before making use of them, but in their current state, they still do prevent someone from having to start from scratch. I hold faint hope that some mechanism to update and extend them will emerge.

I am likewise proud of what we accomplished in the UBT program. We not only launched many HIT careers, but also added some functionality to our own informatics educational program that we plan to maintain, namely a practicum/internship program and a career development service. Some of our best stories are published here, here, and here.

It is somewhat fitting that this time period coincides with a new book released in the Springer Health Informatics series about informatics education [1]. Edited by colleague Dr. Eta Berner, the book features a number of chapters on a variety of topics, including two written by myself, one on the ONC workforce program [2] and the other on the 10x10 program [3]. We also recently published a journal paper evaluating the ONC HIT curriculum materials with its primary users, who were community college faculty [4].

References

1. Berner, E, Ed. (2014). Informatics Education in Healthcare: Lessons Learned. London, England, Springer.
2. Hersh, WR (2014). Informatics for the Health Information Technology Workforce. Informatics Education in Healthcare: Lessons Learned. E. Berner. London, England, Springer: 93-107.
3. Hersh, WR (2014). Online Continuing Education in Informatics: The AMIA 10 × 10 Experience. Informatics Education in Healthcare: Lessons Learned. E. Berner. London, England, Springer: 109-120.
4. Mohan, V, Abbott, P, et al. (2013). Design and evaluation of the ONC health information technology curriculum. Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association: Epub ahead of print.

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