CompTIA Creates Health Care IT Credential to Prepare Workforce for EHRs

By Brian T. Horowitz  |  Posted 2011-07-26

CompTIA Creates Health Care IT Credential to Prepare Workforce for EHRs

CompTIA, a nonprofit trade association for the IT industry, has announced it will offer an industry credential for IT professionals who complete training on how to install, manage and troubleshoot equipment and software for electronic health record platforms.

Rolling out EHR platforms will bring tens of thousands of new jobs in the next several years, according to CompTIA.

"The federal government estimates that upwards of 50,000 new health care IT professionals are needed in the next few years to service the thousands of health care practices expected to implement EHR systems," Terry Erdle, executive vice president of skills certification for CompTIA, said in a statement.

CompTIA credentials are vendor-neutral, meaning that workers are able to transfer their IT skills across multiple companies and product lines, the company reports.

The association announced the health care IT credential program July 25.

With specific operational, regulatory and security knowledge required to operate and secure EHRs in medical facilities-as well as deal with regulatory requirements-CompTIA aims to help doctors and hospitals find qualified IT workers.

IT professionals interested in health care IT training can take courses at 80 community colleges, then complete CompTIA's exam to get the certificate.

"These new employment opportunities will be hybrid jobs requiring a mix of health care knowledge and high-tech expertise," Erdle said. "The CompTIA Healthcare IT Technician credential covers both categories, and will identify professionals with the knowledge and skills required to support the implementation and maintenance of health care IT systems, including EHRs, in a broad range of clinical settings."

The credential will prepare workers for two jobs the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT highlighted as crucial to EHR adoption: implementation support specialists and technical and software support staff.

The health care IT exam covers regulatory requirements, organizational behavior, IT operations, medical business operations and security.

Jobs Require Mix of Health Care, Tech Skills


CompTIA created the health care IT credential after receiving requests by health care IT clients to validate the skills of managed service providers who can implement the transition to EHRs, Gretchen Koch, senior director for workforce development at CompTIA, told eWEEK.

In addition to CompTIA's health care IT certificate, its A+ certification prepares tech workers for PC support, installation, preventative maintenance, networking, security and troubleshooting, she said.

Tech professionals would like the credentials to show the skills they've gained in health care IT, according to Koch.

"What they're saying they really need and would like to have are industry credentials to help them validate the skill sets they've gotten through the training courses," Koch explained.

With the Obama administration's HITECH (Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health) Act offering incentives for "meaningful use" of electronic health records, workers need a credential program to show they understand how to implement EHRs according to these government mandates, she suggested.

"Health IT tech certification is a combination of health care knowledge and skills you need, plus any technical skills needed to successfully pay for this transition," Koch said.

"People who have the skill set and are interested in moving into a high-growth area like health IT can prepare for this exam and pass it and be a good candidate to be hired by these companies that are growing," she said.

Workers can take the test at Pearson Vue and Prometric testing centers. Pearson is the world's largest commercial testing and educational publisher, according to the company. Meanwhile, Prometric is a division of nonprofit ETS (Educational Testing Service).

For the exam, trainees will be asked to solve problems such as how to implement communications protocols like email, secure chat or FTP in a medical practice.

Other questions may include how to troubleshoot IT hardware such as PCs, monitors and printers or to identify commonly used medical terms such as e-prescribing or PACS (picture archiving and communication system), a technology radiologists use for medical imaging. 


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