As the U.S engages in major effort to drive adoption and meaningful use of electronic health records, a shortage of Health IT professionals threatens to impede progress. Indeed, the U.S. Bureau of Labour Statistics predicts a possible shortage of approximately 50,000 qualified Health IT professionals.
To combat this problem, the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) has launched the HIT Pro™ exams which, according to AHIMA, are designed to “assess basic competency of individuals who are seeking to demonstrate proficiency in certain health IT workforce roles integral to the implementation and management of electronic health information.” These exams consist of 125 multiple choice questions and are expected to take three hours to complete.
The HIT Pro™ exams offer individuals who have taken a short-duration, non-degree health IT workforce development program or who have acquired relevant, on-the-job experience the means to demonstrate their health IT competency. At this time, exams have been developed for six distinct competency profiles:
- Clinician/Practitioner Consultant
- Implementation Manager
- Implementation Support Specialist
- Practice Workflow & Information Management Redesign Specialist
- Technical/Software Support Staff
For a limited time, there is no cost to U.S. citizens to write one of the HIT Pro™ exams. The cost is covered through funding from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). This program illustrates yet another way that the U.S. government is moving forward aggressively to deploy electronic health records across the continuum of care. When potential roadblocks such as a potential shortage of qualified Health IT professionals is identified, it seems that program is quickly developed to address the problem in the most practical way possible.
Check out the Health 2.0 Developer Challenge. Launched on 2 June 2010, with support from the Department of Health and Human Services, the goal of the challenge is “continue the excitement of CHDI [Community Health Data Initiative] and to bring the Health 2.0 Community together for rapid application development”. Imagine what we could do in Canada through a similar initiative? If anyone shares this view, please contact me. Perhaps we could find a few organizations willing to put up some money for similar challenges in Canada.
Yesterday I watched a media conference at which the US Dept of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced the final rules associated with “meaningful use”. Each of the five speakers used personal stories to illustrate the importance of electronic health records, starting with the HHS Secretary who related her experiences taking a friend to the emergency department and ending with an impassioned plea for patient access to their personal health information by a widow who literally fought with the healthcare system to get care for her dying husband. Three of the presenters were medical doctors who are now in positions of significant authority and had experienced the transition from paper to electronic records firsthand.
What struck me most about the media conference was that while each presenter’s arguments stood on their own merit, they all fit together in way that the whole was greater than the sum of the parts. There were clearly common themes that tied the presentations together, both in terms of the words that they used and the techniques they used to convey their message. One of the best collection of related presentations / speeches that I have witnessed in quite some time.
I encourage anyone who in some way or other is trying to convince others about the value of digitizing our healthcare system to watch the HHS presentation. It offers a good example of how the value of electronic records can be explained in simple terms and will leave you wondering how anyone might consider not moving forward aggressively to digitize our healthcare system.
Just came across an interesting announcement from the US Department of Health and Human Services regarding an upcoming contract to “create and support a panel of experts and related work groups to identify and explore potentially undesirable or harmful “unintended consequences”” arising from US healthcare IT funding initiatives. According to the contract award notice (https://www.fbo.gov/index?s=opportunity&mode=form&id=22633354ce0c9b300b832ff16c2658a7&tab=core&_cview=0&cck=1&au=&ck=):
“While we expect for these programs to help achieve the many desirable outcomes envisioned by Congress, a sense of responsibility for activities we support, historical experience, as well as mounting evidence of unexpected problems, demand that we consider potential downsides.”
“While some unintended consequences are desirable, the purpose of this contract is to identify and address those that are undesirable and potentially harmful.”
The contract notice defines “unintended consequences” as
“… outcomes that are not intended, even though, upon investigation and reflection, they are, at least in part, a natural consequence of the activities.”
I was intrigued by HHS’s decision to explore unintended consequences. What do you think of their decision to do so? Any thoughts on unintended consequences arising from the application of IT in healthcare?