Department of Veterans Affairs Leverages ONC Curriculum to Educate Staff and Improve Patient Care

Elizabeth Chapman and Diane Bedecarré | March 18, 2014

Using online training tools based on the ONC funded health IT workforce curricula, more than 700 Veterans Affairs staff logged thousands of course hours over eight weeks in health informatics training in an effort to improve the way care is delivered to and managed by Veterans.

This VA-wide training initiative was through a partnership with Bellevue College in Washington State, a member of the ONC’s Community College Consortium.

Based on the overwhelming positive response to the initial course, VA repackaged the content into self-paced modules, augmenting the curriculum with additional learning activities that were geared directly to the needs of veterans and their health care providers. As of March 2014, over 2,500 VA staff members from all across the VA have signed up for this popular series. About half of the student population consists of staff who already work in informatics, health IT, and health information management. Physicians, nurses and other clinicians, administrators, quality management and patient safety staff, medical technologists, patient support staff and those serving in many other roles took the opportunity to learn more about health informatics and how it can help improve care at the VA. The result, we hope, is a richer experience for students, who can learn from each other and appreciate the different perspectives.

The modules comprising the “Introduction to Health Informatics (101)” include:

  • Overview of Health Informatics;
  • Electronic Health Records and Data Standards and Exchange;
  • Workflow Analysis and Process Redesign;
  • Usability and Human Factors;
  • Systems Design and Designing for Safety; and
  • Effective Training for HIT.

All of these courses are offered being offered two times a year and the module content is reviewed and refreshed before each offering begins.

Feedback received from participants remains consistently positive. A sampling of comments received from alums of the curriculum show why it works: “I really wasn’t aware how much informatics has and continues to impact patient care,” a staff nurse said, adding that the history of health informatics “was especially helpful to me.”  Others said the class offered a good foundation and understanding of why informatics is important and put their work in better perspective.

VA found the ONC HIT curriculum materials  extremely useful to help build a health informatics training program that is widely applicable throughout the organization. The content provides a foundation and framework for both new and experienced informatics staff and provides insights into key informatics concepts and methods that can be used by staff in other clinical and administrative roles.

Note: The materials used to develop the course are available through the American Medical Informatics Association (AMIA) Knowledge Center website at .

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Elizabeth S. Chapman, MS
Workforce Development Competency Lead, Health Informatics Initiative
Office of Informatics and Analytics
Veterans Health Administration
Department of Veterans Affairs

Diane Bedecarré RN-BC, MS
Workforce Development Co-Lead, Health Informatics Initiative
Office of Informatics and Analytics
Veterans Health Administration
Department of Veterans Affairs

Since 2011, several new training programs have been launched as part of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Health Informatics Initiative (hi2).