The University of Colorado College of Nursing has been awarded $2.6 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funds to advance the widespread adoption and meaningful use of Health Information Technology (HIT) by educating professionals to work in this rapidly growing field. To achieve these goals, Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sibelius has enlisted the talent and resources of some of the nation’s leading universities, community colleges, and major research centers.
The stimulus funds, awarded by the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, will enable the College of Nursing to help educate the estimated 50,000 professionals needed to convert the entire country to electronic health records by the year 2014. The Recovery Act authorizes an estimated $40 billion to achieve this goal.
Funding was provided in a competitively awarded grant to the Colorado Health Information Education Collaborative (HITEC). Diane Skiba, PhD., FAAN, FACMI, professor at the College of Nursing, is the project director.
Dr. Skiba has successfully managed three previous training grants from HHS. “Through this recovery act funding, we will be able to prepare more professionals in a shorter timeframe without financial burdens,” said Skiba. “These professionals will promote the adoption and meaningful use of health information technology insuring patient safety and promoting quality health care.”
The grant will produce trained professionals for vital, highly specialized health IT roles. Most trainees will complete intensive courses of study in 12 months or less and receive a certificate of advanced training; other trainees will receive masters’ degrees requiring up to two years, and the completion of a thesis or equivalent research project on a health IT topic.
“The award to Dr. Skiba recognizes her national and international leadership in health information technology,” said Patricia Moritz, PhD, dean and professor at the College of Nursing.
The goal of Colorado HITEC is to expand and integrate existing education programs at the University of Colorado Denver to prepare a workforce of over 100 professionals that are capable of serving as Clinical Leaders, Health Information Management Exchange Specialist, or Health IT Sub-Specialists, and Master’s prepared Health Care Informatics Research Development Scientists. This expansion combines faculty and existing coursework from the College of Nursing, Schools of Medicine, Pharmacy, Public Health, Dental Medicine, and Business.
The Colorado HITEC will provide accessible interdisciplinary learning opportunities that will lead to one of three one-year certificate programs or a two-year graduate degree in health care informatics.
Recruitment efforts will form 15 partnerships with key organizations to insure that 25 percent of graduates represent critical access or state designate disproportionate share hospitals and 25 percent represent certified rural health clinics and federally designated community health clinics.
“The Review Committee noted repeatedly that Dr. Skiba has been a consistent advocate for interdisciplinary training in health informatics,” stated Michael Kahn, MD, PhD., associate professor, Department of Pediatrics University of Colorado School of Medicine. “As Co-Chair of the CCTSI Informatics Education Committee at CU Denver, Dr. Skiba helped create an integrated set of Informatics core competencies that spanned three existing training programs. That same commitment to interdisciplinary training appears in this award.”
The project described was supported by Award Number T15OC000051 from the Office of The National Coordinator For Health Information Technology, Os, Hhs. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the Office Of The National Coordinator For Health Information Technology, Os, HHS or the National Institutes of Health.