ONC Health IT Curriculum Materials Are Moving

Funding for ONC Health IT Curriculum Has Ended

William Hersh, MD, Professor and Chair, OHSU
Blog: Informatics Professor

One of the most enduring artifacts from of the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act may well be the Office of the National Coordinator (ONC) Health Information Technology (HIT) Curriculum. I noted last year that the funding for the ONC health IT curriculum had ended, so the materials are no longer being updated. However, they still have value, and OHSU has continued to maintain the National Training and Dissemination Center (NTDC) Web site where they are currently housed. With OHSU’s ability to fund the site ending, I am pleased to report that the materials will find an archival home in the AMIA Knowledge Center, where they will continue to be freely available. Around the end of February, the NTDC Web site itself will be retired.

Detailed documentation is available within the materials themselves, with a set of overview pages available from the links in the upper right portion of the main screen on the AMIA site. I have also provided overviews of the materials in past blog postings from 2012 and 2011. ONC still provides an overview of the program that created the materials on its Web site.

It is important to remember the main audience for these materials is educators, even though they are used by many others. But the materials are more designed to be fashioned by teachers into courses than to be used directly, even though many people do the latter.

The uncompressed size of the final (Version 3) materials is 11.2 gigabytes, contained in 18,072 files. The 20 components of the curriculum contain 9,974 Powerpoint slides and audio lasting over 136 hours (5 days, 16 hours, and 4 minutes, to be precise!). Of course, not all of the curriculum consists of narrated slides. There are also exercises, including those involving hands-on use of an educational version of VistA for Education (VFE), a fully functional version of the VA VistA electronic health record system, which is also included with the materials.

The curricular materials consist of 20 components, each of which is comparable in depth to a college course. The components are subdivided into 8-12 units, each of which contain a variety of activities appropriate to the topic, including voice-over-Powerpoint narrated lectures, references, suggested readings, exercises, and more. All of the files for each unit are organized into .ZIP files for ease of downloading, and even further, all unit .ZIP files are bundled into a single component .ZIP file for ease of mass downloading.

The topic areas of the 20 components are:

  1. Introduction to Health Care and Public Health in the U.S.
  2. The Culture of Health Care
  3. Terminology in Health Care and Public Health Settings
  4. Introduction to Information and Computer Science
  5. History of Health Information Technology in the U.S.
  6. Health Management Information Systems
  7. Working with Health IT Systems
  8. Installation and Maintenance of Health IT Systems
  9. Networking and Health Information Exchange
  10. Fundamentals of Health Workflow Process Analysis & Redesign
  11. Configuring EHRs
  12. Quality Improvement
  13. Public Health IT
  14. Special Topics Course on Vendor-Specific Systems
  15. Usability and Human Factors
  16. Professionalism/Customer Service in the Health Environment
  17. Working in Teams
  18. Planning, Management and Leadership for Health IT
  19. Introduction to Project Management
  20. Training and Instructional Design

Each component also contains a blueprint document that provides an overview of the learning objectives and content for each unit. All of the components also have an instructor’s manual that provides more detailed information, including listing of authorship and teaching information. The full set of blueprints have been rolled into a single PDF file and are available on the ONC Web site.

Three of the components are “lab” components that make use of an educational version of the Veteran’s Administration (VA) VistA EHR. A version of VistA that runs under various versions of Microsoft Windows is provided on the Web site, courtesy of the VA. This version runs under the open-source GT.M version of M.

The materials are distributed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. This means that all users of the curriculum can use, share, and adapt the materials but must attribute the originator of work, use the materials only for non-commercial purposes, and share any changes made under same license. Per the ONC, universities own the intellectual property for their components.

I am hopeful that continued usage of the materials will occur, and that some academic programs will undertake innovations with them. One example of an innovation is their organization into a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) by the Health Informatics Forum. It may be possible that we, AMIA, and others might someday find additional funding to maintain, update, and expand the materials as well. But for now, they remain a valuable resource to the HIT community.

This article post first appeared on The Informatics Professor. Dr. Hersh is a frequent contributing expert to HITECH Answers.