Normandale receives grant from Health and Human Services for ACT Health IT Program

By Steven Geller - Director of Media and Public Relations

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Normandale Community College recently received a $966,000 grant for two years from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services through the Office of the National Coordinator (ONC) for Health IT to further advance healthcare reform goals, including much-needed up-skilling for healthcare workers and facilities in health IT related fields.

The Accelerating Care Transformation through Health Information Technology (ACT Health IT) program will develop a training program to meet the needs of the healthcare workforce, facilities and the rapidly changing industry. The ACT Health IT training will focus on four key topic areas. These areas include Care Coordination, Population Health Management, New Payment and Delivery Models, and Value-Based Care and Patient-Centered Care.

Normandale will join six institutions in transforming healthcare through training and development. The other grant awardees include University of Alabama at Birmingham, Bellevue College, Columbia University, Johns Hopkins University, Oregon Health & Sciences University and University of Texas Health Sciences.

"We have made great strides in the adoption and use of health IT," said the National Coordinator for Health IT - Dr. Karen DeSalvo. "As we move beyond adoption to a learning health system where information is available when and where it matters most, it is important to ensure greater care coordinator at the community level. These grants provide resources to meet this goal."

Normandale has been heavily involved in the evolution of health IT training. The College led the state through the initial American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funded Health IT community college workforce initiatives, which began in 2010 and established the Minnesota Health Information Technology (MNHIT) program. Normandale is also partnering with the Lac qui Parle Health Network and Medi-sota Alliance to up-skill Minnesota rural healthcare workers through other funding from the Department of Health and Human Services.

"Minnesota is a strong leader in healthcare improvement and will benefit immensely from this workforce training program that will integrate our people, process, systems and innovations," said Sunny Ainley, associate dean, Normandale Community College.

Overall, Normandale has trained more than 700 health professionals, in multiple roles, designed over 600 hours of online curriculum and worked with more than 50 health care organizations. As the industry has moved through the eras of health IT 1.0 and 2.0, training has focused on implementing and effectively using electronic health records and systems. The major challenge now is to leverage data, analytics and informatics to improve care design, delivery and outcomes.

ACT Health IT will look to attract and recruit 1,000 or more healthcare professional trainees, access best practices, subject matter expertise and trainees from a wide range of healthcare professionals in the five-state area, design training that is portable, effective and appropriate for scalability and sharing of resources upon project completion.