Grant Awarded for Rural Health Information Technology Workforce Program

The Area Health Education Center (AHEC) of the Plains in Plainview, Texas, has been awarded a $900,000 Rural Health Information Technology (HIT) grant from the Health Resources and Services Administration for current rural health employees.

The grant will provide tuition assistance for 120 students over three years. Qualified candidates will have tuition, books and fees covered when accepted into the online program. Eligible students must live in one of 76 counties covered by the Rural HIT Workforce Program grant. Classes begin in January.

The Rural HIT Workforce Program is a collaborative effort focused on developing future health care providers and supporting current health care professionals in West Texas. AHEC of the Plains will work with the West Texas Health Information Technology Regional Extension Center (WTxHITREC) at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center (TTUHSC) in Lubbock, Texas and with Midland College in Midland, Texas.

Two online certificates, information technology interoperability liaison and data quality manager, will be offered with an apprenticeship component to assist rural health care providers and facilities in the implementation, maintenance and reporting of information as required for Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services participation. Midland College will provide training using curricula certified by the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC), with WTxHITREC providing service learning and apprenticeship.

The goal of the program is to combine career development and provider needs in rural West Texas through recruitment, education, certified training, apprenticeship and employment in the rural workforce. The program will serve as a building block and model for helping sustain the implementation of electronic health records within rural West Texas by training and certifying people in the area to meet the HIT needs.

WTxHITREC, a program of the F. Marie Hall Institute for Rural and Community Health at TTUHSC, was awarded through an objective review process by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, ONC, as the designated organization for West Texas to support primary health care providers on EHR adoption and meaningful use.

For more information about the HIT grant, visit www.midland.edu/ruralhit, or call Midland College at (432) 685-6891. For more information on achieving meaningful use, eligibility for EHR incentive payments and services provided by the WTxHITREC, call (806) 743-7960, email info@wtxhitrec.org or visit www.wtxhitrec.org.

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