PODCAST: One-on-One w/OHSU Professor Bill Hersh

Bill Hersh, M.D., Chair, Department of Medical Informatics and Clinical Epidemiology, OHSU

Bill Hersh, M.D., Chair, Department of Medical Informatics and Clinical Epidemiology, OHSU

When ONC recently announced the beneficiaries of its workforce development grants, this reporter wrote an editorial lamenting what seemed to be fast and loose spending of taxpayer money. But one reader took exception with that characterization — Oregon Health & Science University Department of Medical Informatics and Clinical Epidemiology Chairman Bill Hersh, M.D. That’s because Hersh’s institution is the recipient of more than one of those grants, totaling over $5 million (the entire program is over $100 million). To learn more about what OHSU plans to do with the money, as well as the workforce development agenda overall, healthsystemCIO.com editor Anthony Guerra recently talked with the professor.

Chapter 1 — Topics Covered: Genesis of the interview; ONC’s workforce development programs; about OHSU’s workforce development programs & ONC funding; what the funding will allow OHSU to do [audio: One-on-One-W-Bill-Hersh-Chapter-1.mp3]

Chapter 2 — Topics Covered: Quality of the programs being funded and the skill level of those who move through them; Trade school versus liberal arts?; processes to link educational programs and employers [audio: One-on-One-W-Bill-Hersh-Chapter-2.mp3]

Chapter 3 — Topics Covered: Advice for employers onboarding students from these programs; how should CIOs view these programs and recruit from them?; keeping education programs relevant to a fast-moving industry [audio: One-on-One-W-Bill-Hersh-Chapter-3.mp3]

April 8 Enewsletter Edit Memo

Dear HIT Professional,
The fact that HHS and ONC threw around a few hundred million dollars this week is hardly breaking news, but nonetheless you can read about their latest largess in our “other news” section. One of those chunks of change has ostensibly gone to develop a robust cadre of healthcare IT workers to help staff the RECs that are supposed to help providers select and meaningfully use EMRs. Once providers can attest to meeting the requirements, ONC will then pay some more.

This sure is getting to be one expensive proposition.

But what will the assorted degrees and certifications mean to you — the CIO? The answer is they won’t mean much without some serious investigation. The quality of those coming out of these programs will necessarily vary depending on the quality of the program. In order to determine if the degree of any particular institution really means anything, you’ll have to do your homework. That will entail reviewing the curriculum and the teachers/professors. (and please don’t ask me where they are going to come from, because I have no idea. Perhaps ONC’s next program will be to fund the creation of a school that will teach people how to teach health IT)

If you really want to be proactive, why not take some steps to ensure that your local workforce grant recipient has a great program by becoming involved in its creation. Perhaps you or someone on your staff would enjoy teaching a class at night or on the weekend. This doesn’t have to be all selfless, as getting to know the students will mean first pick of the best and brightest.

The bottom line is if you have a staffing issue, take some concrete steps to improve the situation. Counting on ONC’s money (actually that’s your money) to make it go away is a bad bet.

Have a tremendous week!

Anthony Guerra

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