Health information technology (HIT) has the potential to dramatically improve the quality and efficiency of health care. To speed HIT adoption among California clinicians, CHCF launched an initiative to increase clinician access to HIT education and training. The goal was to arm clinicians with skills necessary to participate in and support the implementation of electronic health records (EHRs) and other HIT applications in their local settings.
CHCF provided funding in early 2006 for nearly 50 California primary care clinicians to enroll in two HIT courses at half the regular price. Both courses involved online learning combined with in-person sessions and required participation in a post-course evaluation. Continuing education (CE) credits were included.
One course offered by the American Medical Informatics Association (AMIA)/Oregon Health Sciences University provided an in-depth approach to the general topic of HIT and covered a variety of subjects, ranging from EHRs to telemedicine and consumer health. The course components included 12 weekly units delivered online, a course project, an in-person session, and a final examination. The course was very well received, although it required a substantial time commitment of 60 to 70 hours over 12 weeks.
Another course, Health IT Certification-CPHIT (Certified Professional in HIT), offered a practical approach with a strong focus on how to plan, select, and implement an EHR system. Topics included EHR migration, legal and regulatory aspects, systems selection, implementation, and support. The course components included six online lessons (text-based presentation) and an in-person session with four separate lessons. The course catered to a different user who was interested in a less-intensive workload (15 to 20 hours).
Highlights from the evaluations of the programs:
- Participant feedback was favorable for both programs.
- Enrolling participants into the programs met with some challenges. The main barriers to participation had to do with costs, time, awareness of opportunity, and support at work to participate in the programs.
- Those who participated in the course were at the time either planning or implementing an EHR or considering whether to adopt an EHR or other HIT application.
- Evaluation results were variable and showed that clinicians have different learning styles and preferences for how courses are taught, intensity of the requirements, and interaction with teachers.
- Students in both courses wanted better testing and assessment methods and more opportunities to interact with other students.
- Students expressed interest in having a paper-based reference binder of all materials; more flexibility in structure (more modules); and a more varied and interesting format (different teachers, methods, and voices).
Future funding for these courses is undetermined. For further information contact Veenu Aulakh at email@example.com.