Associations call for workforce assistance

Building the Work Force for Health Information Transformation

Two health information technology associations are calling on the federal government for more help in training workers -- health IT specialists and the medical personnel who will use the systems.

The American Health Information Management Association and the American Medical Informatics Association issued a report called “Building the Work Force for Health Information Transformation.” The goal of automating health records for most Americans cannot be met unless more people can use and support health IT systems, it states.

The implementations could fail or even be harmful without workers who can implement them well, according to the report.

It calls for the Labor and Education departments to provide training for health information specialists. Those departments should work with the Department of Health and Human Services and professional organizations “to ensure that the health information specialist is recognized as a distinct skill set and profession," the report states. Labor also should standardize its occupational codes for health information specialists and information managers, it states.

Another recommendation: Congress should increase funding for health IT education programs, student recruitment and retention, and faculty training.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services should provide incentives to health care providers to help pay for training, the report adds. Unspecified government agencies should “establish a viable apprentice model for the health information workforce similar to that utilized for residency training programs in medicine.”

The report also has recommendations for employers, employees and vendors of health IT systems.

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