Tag Archives: Office of the National Coordinator

U.S. funds Health IT Comptency Exams

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
  • Trainer

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.


ONC Musings on Engaging their Stakeholders

The Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT in the US (more commonly known as the ONC) continues to amaze me with their willingness to listen to and react to what they are hear from their stakeholders.  In a recent post on HealthITBuzz, the ONC blog, Jodi G. Daniel, Director of the Office of Policy and Planning, shares her thoughts on what the ONC has learned from the input they have received to date.  Highlights include:

  • “We should take greater advantage of social networking tools (and this means much more than blogging) when bringing our policy conversations outside of the walls of HHS.”
  • “We have been reconsidering the label “consumer” and thinking about using “individual” instead. Calling people consumers implies that they are necessarily consuming something, whereas an individual may not need to consume anything (health care or otherwise) to manage his/her health more effectively.”
  • “It is not just about changing the behavior of consumers. Health IT offers a tremendous opportunity to change the health care system to become more “consumer-centered.”
  • “In order to include consumers in the health IT policymaking process, we cannot expect them to come to Washington or to find this blog online (although the ones that do are amazing!). To truly be representative, we must go to consumers’ conversations.”
  • “Data liquidity, including consumer access to their health information, is the first step to fostering innovation. Innovation is not just about technology; there is also a real need for innovation on implementation, replicating successes, and using data in advanced ways. But it is the industry that will be leading any such innovation, not the government.”

Engaging the community using social media is a scary prospect for many healthcare organizations.  Fortunately, there are some good role models to emulate and many great resources from which to draw ideas and lessons learned.




ONC Seeks Input on Consumer eHealth Strategy

A recent post on the ONC blog seeks  input on their strategic goal to “Empower Consumers to Better Manage Their Health through Health IT”. Specifically, the ONC asks for input on two questions:

  • First, do you agree with the four objectives listed below?
  • Second, what specific activities would you like to see the federal government take on? See the bullet points below each objective for some starting ideas of possible activities.

The ONC’s strategic objectives for Consumer eHealth include:

  • Objective A. Engage consumers in federal health IT policy and programs
  • Objective B. Accelerate consumer access to electronic health information
  • Objective C. Foster innovation in consumer health IT
  • Objective D. Drive consumer-provider electronic communications



Dr. David Blumenthal, head of the U.S. Health and Human Services Office of the National Coordinator (ONC) for Health Information Technology recently committed to making the process for developing eHealth policy in the US more open and transparent:


According to Dr. Blumenthal, “Beginning January 1, we’ll implement a new policy that will open up workgroup meetings to the public unless a closed meeting is clearly in the public interest“.  Do we need a similar policy in Canada?  Are there discussions going on behind closed doors that people are interested in hearing?