The Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT announced $73 million in grants to support career training and job placement for 4,000 new health IT workers.
The Health and Human Services Department awarded $73 million in cooperative agreements and grants to increase the number of IT specialists working in health care and ensure the health care workforce has the training to keep up with innovations in the sector.
The funding is part of $80 million given to HHS as part of the second pandemic stimulus package—the American Rescue Plan—set aside for the Public Health Informatics and Technology Workforce Development Program, or PHIT. The program is being administered by the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT, or ONC, which Wednesday announced 10 awards focused on bringing more minority and underserved communities into health IT.
“We’re excited to hit the ground running to develop a continuous pipeline of diverse public health information technology professionals,” National Coordinator for Health IT Micky Tripathi said in a statement. “It’s critical that we quickly identify and educate individuals from diverse backgrounds in public health, informatics and data science to cultivate a robust, sustainable public health workforce.”
With that in mind, the program sought out partners at Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Hispanic Serving Institutions, Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander-Serving Institutions and other minority-serving institutions.
ONC officials initially planned to award up to $75 million—with $5 million reserved for program administration—for up to 30 projects. After three months of sifting through project proposals, the team chose 10 awardees:
- Bowie State University, Bowie, MD
- California State University, Long Beach Research Foundation, Long Beach, CA
- Dominican College of Blauvelt, Inc., Orangeburg, NY
- Jackson State University, Jackson, MS
- Norfolk State University, Norfolk, VA
- Regents of The University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN
- The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, Houston, TX
- University of Massachusetts at Lowell, Lowell, MA
- University of California, Irvine, Irvine, CA
- University of the District of Columbia, Washington, DC
The organizations will group to “form multiple consortia” that will provide training and job placement assistance for more than 4,000 people over the next four years.
“The consortia will develop curricula, recruit and train participants, secure paid internship opportunities, and assist in career placement at public health agencies, public health-focused non-profits or other public health-focused organizations,” ONC said in a statement.
The funding was included in the American Rescue Plan to help with ongoing efforts against COVID-19, as well as the next pandemic.
“While we work to tackle the pandemic, we won’t take our foot off the gas when it comes to preparing for any future public health challenges,” Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra said. “And as we work to expand talent, whether it’s in the field of technology or public health informatics, we will do so with an eye towards promoting diversity.”