Feds Fund Health IT Training; Rural Hospitals to Get Broadband Help

Lora Bentley
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Key Health Care IT Trends

The good news is that primary focus now seems to be squarely on improving the overall quality of health care and the reduction of human errors.

Remember the $22 billion in federal funds that Congress set aside in the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act to "advance the use of health information technology?" Much of the money will go to health care organizations that can demonstrate "meaningful use" of electronic health record systems.


However, at least $144 million will be spent to train the individuals who will fill the estimated 50,000 health IT jobs expected to become available as a result of the HITECH Act mandates.


Computerworld reports that starting this fall, more than 80 colleges and universities around the country will receive funds to implement and administer health IT training programs designed for those who already have health care or IT backgrounds. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Service developed the curriculum around 12 specific roles. Some certifications can be completed in six months' time, but programs for privacy and security specialists or higher level administrative positions will range from one to three years.


Each school will receive at least $1 million on average.


Also in an effort to advance health care IT, the Federal Communications Commission approved a notice of proposed rulemaking that would adjust an existing telecommunications subsidy program to include affordable broadband for rural hospitals. Computerworld's Grant Gross explained:

The plan would give patients in rural areas access to state-of-the-art diagnostic tools often available only in the largest medical centers. Many rural clinics and hospitals lack affordable access to basic broadband that can handle simple telemedicine functionality, the FCC said.


More than 2,000 facilities will benefit from the program, which is to be funded by the Universal Service Fund.

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