The Health IT Certificate program at The University of Texas Funding was launched in January 2010 when the College of Natural Sciences (CNS) and the School of Biological Sciences collaborated with the Texas e-Health Alliance, the Texas Medical Association and members of the Health IT industry to begin the development of an innovative Health IT curriculum designed to meet workforce needs in Texas and the Nation. In April 2010, the university received an American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) grant awarded by the Office of the National Coordinator, Health Information Technology to the Professional University Resources and Education for Health Information Technology (PURE-HIT) Consortium , a collaboration of Texas State University (the lead organization), the University of Texas at Austin and The University of Texas School of Biomedical Informatics. The consortium received 5.4 million dollars, the largest award in the nation among the nine programs funded for university-based education in Health IT.
The CNS, which received 2.77 million dollars of this funding, quickly moved to implement the first of three certificate programs—an intensive 9-week summer certificate program built upon the curriculum that was already in development. Faculty and students were recruited, and on June 3rd, 55 highly motivated students began the program; on July 30th, 54 were awarded certificates as Health Information Management and Exchange Specialists. Today, 97% of the graduates of the inaugural class who sought Health IT jobs are working in the Health IT field.
Two additional ONC-funded certificate programs were subsequently developed – a Privacy and Security Certificate, developed for CNS computer science majors, and a Public Health Leader Certificate designed to equip public health professionals working at the Texas Department of State Health Services and the Austin/Travis County Health and Human Services Department with skills and competencies in public health informatics. One cohort of 23 students completed the Privacy and Security Certificate during the 2010-2011 academic year, and 22 public health professionals will complete the Public Health Leader Certificate program by June 2013. There are no plans at this time to repeat these two certificate programs in the future.
In January 2012, the Health IT program entered into a partnership with The University of Texas Southwestern (UTSW) Medical Center at Dallas to expand the outreach of the program. With the support of Mr. Suresh Gunasakeren, Associate Vice President for Health System Information Resources, 13 students have completed the 9-week certificate program in Dallas via distance education. Students participating in Dallas complete their 2 week practicum at UTSW Medical Center and receive a certificate awarded jointly by both institutions. This distance education opportunity will continue to be offered in the future and will be made available to 10-15 students in each cohort— Spring, Summer and Fall.