Scrapping the country's paper medial records and replacing them with health ITsystems is a massive undertaking requiring human capital that currently does not exist. Moreover, producing tens of thousands of health IT experts requires an infrastructure--certified training programs, curricula, instructors and competency exams--that is not yet in place.
Establishing the necessary means of production requires a mobilization effort akin to standing up an army in peacetime to fight an unanticipated war. A two-part series in Modern Healthcare chronicles the massive undertaking.
Charles Friedman, chief scientific officer for the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, told MH that "we're going to need something like 50,000 more trained healthcare workers ... than the educational system, as it currently exists, can produce."
In April, ONC "awarded $112 million of stimulus funds to dozens of universities and community colleges" for IT workforce training programs that in most cases must be operational by fall. The first "payment year" for awarding financial incentives to healthcare providers who adopt health IT begins in October.
"Thousands of workers will be needed to simply install these EHR systems, configure them to local needs and train clinicians and other healthcare workers in their use," reported Modern Healthcare. "Thousands more will be needed to keep them running."