Health Information Technology Program Receives $2.7 Million in Federal Funding, Graduates First Class of Students This Summer

Aug. 26, 2010

AUSTIN, Texas — The University of Texas at Austin's new Health Information Technology program has received $2.7 million as a part of the Professional University Resources and Education for Health Information Technology (PURE HIT) consortium project supported by a grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of the National Coordinator (ONC) for Health Information Technology.

Summer Health IT Certificate students
Health IT Certificate students participate in a mock clinic in the learning laboratory at the Clinical Education Center at University Medical Center Brackenridge. From left to right: Sean El Haj, Sachin Chopra and Dustin Murders.

The program graduated its first class of 54 students this summer.

"Our first graduates are really impressive," says Dr. Leanne Field, director of the program. "They are entering a field that is rapidly growing and will only continue to gain importance as we move toward electronic health records across the country. The industry demand is very high."

Texas State University is the lead institution for the PURE HIT consortium and the University of Texas School of Biomedical Informatics is also a partner. Total funding for the consortium is $5.4 million, the largest award in the nation funded for university-based education in health information technology.

The University of Texas at Austin certificate program is the first in the nation among those receiving ONC health information technology funding to graduate students.

At the university, the funding will support the establishment of a total of four programs in the health information technology field:

  • the summer Health Information Technology Certificate for recent graduates,
  • a Health Information Privacy and Security certificate for computer science students,
  • a Public Health Informatics certificate for public health students, and
  • a Health Information Technology Sub-Specialist certificate for graduate students.

"A groundbreaking transformation is occurring in the delivery of health care in the United States," says Field. "The College of Natural Sciences and the School of Biological Sciences are rapidly responding to this need."

The summer certificate program is nine weeks of intensive study training students in fundamental concepts in health information technology, project management and workflow redesign, operational models of health care practice and skill development in the use of various electronic health record systems.

Students are given opportunities to enhance their professional communication and career development skills. Graduates of the program are awarded a certificate as a "Health Information Manager and Exchange Specialist."

Students gain experience in the Health Information Technology Learning Laboratory at the Clinical Education Center at University Medical Center Brackenridge, a member of the Seton Family of Hospitals. They also engage in a two-week practicum with Texas-area e-health companies.

For example, students in their practicum this summer at the Gulf Coast Regional Extension Center in Houston were deployed by Dr. Kim Dunn to a local nonprofit clinic called Shalom that relied completely on paper health records. The students were given one day to overhaul Shalom's system for monitoring patients with diabetes. They created a new database system for the clinic to add patients and track their health over time.

"The situation in the field right now is really poor," says Daniel Fritz, one of the summer program graduates who interned with Dunn. "These health clinics really need major changes, but if you really sit down and think about the problem you can come up with a solution. We started that day with nothing and came away with something great."

The students were particularly effective because they had gained skills using six different electronic health record systems donated by industry partners, including Allscripts, eClinicalWorks, e-MDs, Inc., GE Healthcare, NextGen Healthcare and Sage.

A full list of industry partners is online.

The summer certificate program has also benefited from major support and collaboration from key players in the e-health industry and nonprofits, including Seton Family of Hospitals, the Texas e-Health Alliance, the TMF Health Quality Institute and the Texas Medical Association.

"We couldn't have accomplished this without the incredible support from these partners," says Field.

Learn more about the summer certificate program.

For more information, contact: Lee Clippard, Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, 512-232-0104; Dr. Leanne Field, program director, 512-475-8897.

5 Comments to "Health Information Technology Program Receives $2.7 Million in Federal Funding, Graduates First Class of Students This Summer"

1.  Jeremy Engdahl-Johnson said on Aug. 26, 2010

Federal funding may be encouraging a move toward EHR, but there's more to it than just installing systems. How can healthcare data pooling lead to a better system? Learn more at Healthcare Town Hall.

2.  Ron Kessler said on Aug. 30, 2010

Leanne....This is good news for students, UT and the C. Texas Region. Creating accurate patient data bases that move with the patient not only maintains health assessments better but also contributes to efficiency, effectiveness and lower costs of quality health care. Congratulations!

3.  robert dulak said on Sept. 3, 2010

I am very impressed and proud of the universities (I grew up in Austin and have a MBA/BBA from Texas) for their foresight and speedy delivery in a critical area of our nation's healthcare system.

My curiosity, being a veteran in the quest of clinical process driven automation specifically in hospitals, is teaching the complexities of healthcare (organization, community and regulatory) and the added complexity of technology integration (for workflow improvements and record continuity). There are many demands placed upon technology in healthcare all driven by differing priorities which makes this field challenging, complex, necessary and for those who like the challenge, can tolerate the unrealistic demands, not afraid of change, respects humanity and take pride in steady advancements and accomplishment.

Robert Dulak
Director of IT
New York Methodist Hospital

4.  Brian Curnutt said on Sept. 3, 2010

You'll be glad to see the nice http://ehr.healthcareitnews.com/blog/u-texas-shows-how-reporting-should-be-done" rel="nofollow">write-up by one of the health care industry journals.

5.  Francisco de Jesus said on Sept. 6, 2011

Hi iam very impress by everyone hard work, i got the coding edge magazine, And Iam very interesting this new digital coder program, I finish school on may 21, as Billing and Coding 2011, And scheduled my state exam on Sept 18, I have electronic background, iam from Ct, how can get my hand on this new coding in the digital world