Ed. note: This is cross-posted from the U.S. Department of Education Blog
With a major workforce transition underway in many rural hospitals and health clinics, the U.S. Department of Education (ED) and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) hosted a conference call with staff from nearly 80 rural community colleges recently to discuss federal resources available to expand training for health information technology workers.
Developing an adequately trained health IT workforce in rural areas is imperative, and new programs are available to provide incentives for eligible health care providers and hospitals to adopt and meaningfully use electronic health records. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that the health IT workforce will increase by 20 percent by the year 2016. A significant part of that growth will come in rural areas, which are served by approximately 2,000 rural hospitals, 3,700 Rural Health Clinics and approximately 3,000 Community and Migrant Health Centers that are either located in or serve rural communities.
In small rural hospitals and clinics, health IT workers may have multiple roles and responsibilities. Community colleges will be the place where many employers and employees turn for training and re-training to implement and maintain these systems.
Activities and programs at agencies across the Federal government are designed to support and expand workforce training for health IT workers, including:
Click here (doc) to review a transcript of the health IT call with rural community colleges.
John White is Deputy Assistant Secretary for Rural Outreach at the U.S. Department of Education. Judy Murphy, RN, FACMI, FHIMSS, FAAN, is Deputy National Coordinator for Programs and Policy in the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT and Tom Morris is Associate Administrator for Rural Health Policy at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.