The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) in the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announces the availability of two additional grant programs to support the training and development of the skilled workforce required to support broad adoption and use of health information technology (health IT). 

These programs are titled Information Technology Professionals in Health Care: Program of Assistance for University-Based Training Programs (University-Based Training Program) and Information Technology Professionals in Health Care: Competency Examination for Individuals (Competency Examination Program).

Authorized by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), the grants will work to help strengthen and support the health IT workforce.   The new grant programs will award $32 million to establish university-based certificate and advanced degree health IT training programs and $6 million dollars to develop a health IT competency examination program.  These awards, together with the previous announced $80 million in workforce program grants (Community College Consortia on Nov. 24, 2009, and Curriculum Development Centers on Dec. 15, 2009), recognize the critical importance of developing a well-trained health IT workforce to support the adoption and meaningful use of health IT.

For the University-Based Training Program, ONC anticipates issuing approximately eight to twelve one-time funding awards to support academic programs that rapidly increase the availability of individuals qualified to serve in specific health IT professional roles requiring university-level training.  The training supported by this program will emphasize programs that can be completed by the trainee in one year or less.  Awards are for a 39-month project period.  Four-year colleges and universities are eligible to apply.  Applications are due by Jan. 25, 2010, with final awards expected in March 2010.

For the Competency Examination Program, ONC anticipates issuing a single one-time funding award to support the development and initial administration of a set of health IT competency examinations.  The examinations will assess basic competency for individuals trained through short-duration, non-degree health IT programs, and for members of the workforce with relevant experience or other types of training who are seeking to demonstrate their competency in certain health IT workforce roles integral to achieving meaningful use of electronic health information.  The award is for a two-year project period.  Applications are due by Jan. 25, 2010, and the final award is expected in March 2010.          

“To realize the widespread adoption of EHRs and achieve the vision of a transformed health system that health IT can facilitate, the workforce needs to be expanded and properly trained to facilitate rapid uptake of health IT by health care providers,” said the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, Dr. David Blumenthal.  “The workforce development program is expected to generate highly skilled professionals in key roles to meet 85 percent of the estimated need for expansion of the health IT workforce, who will in turn support health care providers and hospitals implement and maintain electronic health records and use them to strengthen the delivery of care.”

Information about the HITECH grants available through the workforce development program is available at and

Source: HHS