Getting in the HIT Fast Lane

As has been mentioned in previous blog posts, we are technology experts with some experience in health care but not a whole lot of experience on the clinical side of health information technology.  Wanting to help health care providers and administrators solve technology problems, we realized this was an area we should probably bone up on.  When I have a problem I usually try to tackle it head-on, so I did what any reasonable person in my position would do… I applied to medical school.

Not.  I truly appreciate the time and energy that clinicians put into their education however med school would be a BIG commitment which may not be wise to undertake.  Instead, Matt and I have conducted our own research project to familiarize ourselves with the industry and its issues.  This research project ended up being really helpful and I definitely learned a lot.  I can pretty well navigate the alphabet soup that most health care CIOs roll of their tongues with ease.  But I felt like I needed another, deeper level of information and insights, though I wasn’t sure how to get it.

It has always been my experience that when you go the extra mile, you get the good breaks.  I was dutifully reading through another slideshow on Meaningful Use that I easily could have glossed over when, on the last slide, there was a bullet point about some grant programs to educate health information professionals in anticipation of the shortage of qualified professionals needed for EHR implementations.  This sounded interesting.

glasses on a text bookSome Googling brought me to an HHS page which described the program.  Turns out the HITECH Act set aside a bunch of money ($36 million) to educate information professionals all over the country.  The curriculum was developed by outstanding institutions like Johns Hopkins University and Duke University.  The classes are being administered via community colleges all over the country, they are *free*, and are taken 100% online.  This is exactly what we needed!

We are now almost half way through the six month program and so far I am very impressed.  The workload is pretty intense but the content is outstanding.  Curriculum topics include the following:

  • Culture of Healthcare
  • Usability and Human Factors
  • Quality Improvement
  • Fundamentals of Health Workflow
  • Terminology in Healthcare
  • Working with Health IT Systems

Does any of this content sound interesting to you?  Let me know in the comments below and I’ll do a deeper dive in a future post.

Lectures are posted online and may be attended at your own pace.  Each unit has required assignments which are typically either writing a short paper or participating in a discussion forum.  There are quizzes and final exams.  It’s been a while since I’ve been in school so it has been an adjustment getting back into a learning environment 🙂

I’m really optimistic that this program will give us the education and confidence we need to begin helping improve health care information technology.  I should note that there are three roles in each of these courses: IT, Health Care, and Clinician.  I would highly recommend this underpublicized program for health care people of all backgrounds, not just the IT crowd.

Ron is a BCS founder; he can be contacted at ron's email address image. BCS was formed in 2010 in order to meet the increasingly complicated IT needs of the health care community. We offer experience in IT ranging from enterprise application development (J2EE, .NET) to Professional Services Consulting, Support and Project Management. The founders at BCS have over 20 years experience in health care and Financial Services technologies.

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