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By Richard Asinof
By Richard Asinof
At the recent Health IT Expo sponsored by the Rhode Island Quality Institute, Fred Santaniello, the grant manager and account executive for The Center for Technology and Industry at the New England Institute of Technology, was one of the “vendors” sharing information about a new work force training program to expand the expertise of health care workers with electronic health records, or EHRs.
Providence Business News asked Santaniello to share how the training program is going.
PBN: How has New England Institute of Technology positioned itself to train the next generation who will be working with electronic health records in Rhode Island?
SANTANIELLO: In 2010, New England Institute of Technology and Healthcentric Advisors (formally Quality Partners of Rhode Island) applied for and received a $2.8 million grant as part of the U.S. Dept. of Labor Community-Based Job-Training program. The goal is to maximize the expertise of Rhode Island health care workers with state-of-the-art training in EHRs. Designed to meet the training needs of those who work in physician offices, long-term care facilities and hospitals, the program offers classes for workers at three different skill levels: entry, intermediate, and advanced, which includes preparation for the nationally recognized Certified Professional Electronic Health Record exam.
All training classes offered through this grant are tuition-free to Rhode Island residents working in the health care field. The program, which began in August of 2010, is funded until 2013.
To date, more than 150 incumbent medical professionals have received training funded by the grant.
This program’s design also served as a foundation for the development of NEIT’s Associate Degree program in Health Information Management Technology, which will start in January 2012. This is the first EHR degree program in Rhode Island.
PBN: What has been the response to the program so far? What do you see as the demand for workers in the health care industry sector who are trained in EHR?
SANTANIELLO: Response has been excellent. The classes are offered in the evenings at our new East Greenwich campus, allowing health care employees to work during the day. The design of the program allows participants to take the courses at their own pace during the three-year period of grant funding. The objective is to prepare these workers for the federally mandated 2014 deadline to institute EHRs in all sectors of the industry.
PBN: Is NEIT working with any particular EHR systems that are based here in Rhode Island, in terms of software and hardware applications that students are trained to work with?
SANTANIELLO: In our attempt to train as wide a variety of present and potential health care workers, NEIT has chosen an educational EHR training software package, “Neehr Perfect,” as part of the training curriculum for both the grant and degree programs.
“Neehr Perfect” is a web-based educational EHR software program. It is a clinical practice and long-term care educational tool with full-scale inpatient and outpatient EHR capabilities designed for nursing and health care professional education programs.
Each medical setting can differ in the EHR software and hardware system utilized. By using the Neehr Perfect training system, we provide students with the practical EHR skills necessary to perform effectively in almost every medical setting or EHR software system used in the field.
The grant program’s Advisory Committee, made up of industry, educational and community representatives, constantly provide input into the curriculum’s design and identify upgrades needed to insure relevant training for the students.
PBN: Is this training integrated with the other health care industry classes and programs you are offering?
SANTANIELLO: At the present time, NEIT’s Nursing program has integrated EHR training into its curriculum. Our other medical technology degree programs are also working on integrating EHR into their course offerings.
PBN: Are you partnering with any hospitals or large group medical practices now?
SANTANIELLO: Our partner, Healthcentric Advisors, through its staff of more than 40 physicians, nurses, educators, analysts and other health care professionals, is viewed as a health care industry leader in quality improvement, coalition building, individualized care, health information technology and electronic health records.
Rhode Island Quality Institute is another partner as well as a member of our Advisory Committee. The Institute’s Regional Extension Center works to advance the adoption, implementation, and meaningful use of certified EHRs in Rhode Island. These partnerships allow NEIT to work effectively with a comprehensive network of health care providers in the state.