Improving the Health Care System through Innovation
This week, I joined my colleagues, including White House Cabinet Secretary and Initiative Co-Chair Chris Lu, in Jacksonville, Florida to engage with Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) business leaders about the Obama Administration’s policies and programs to support aspiring entrepreneurs and start-ups, resources for small businesses wanting to go global, and innovation opportunities for entrepreneurs, including health IT.
Throughout American history, AAPI communities have played a pivotal role in helping to build the infrastructure that supports our great nation. As our economy continues to improve, the contributions of the AAPI community will lead the way in building and improving our health care infrastructure in An America Built to Last.
As a health care innovation professional at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), I understand that the quality of the care received by our citizens is directly tied to their productivity. It is connected to industries that have the potential to drive growth and create jobs. Our nation is moving toward a high-performing, patient-centered health care system built on the latest evidence, the most advanced technology, the right incentives, and a focus on keeping people healthy. We are achieving better health, better care, and lower costs, and the AAPI community is playing a key part in building the infrastructure that ensures these positive changes.
At HHS, one of the first steps we’ve taken to support infrastructure development in healthcare is to make significant investments in health information technology (health IT). Health IT encompasses an array of technologies to store, share, and analyze health information, and it is bolstering a grand transformation in health care as we know it. Health care providers are using health IT to improve patient care. Patients are using health IT to better communicate with their doctors, learn and share information about their health, and take actions that will improve their quality of life. Until recently, relatively few Americans have had the opportunity to use this kind of technology to enhance important relationships related to their health – with doctors, pharmacies, and hospitals. That has all started to change since the launch of this Administration’s comprehensive effort to promote adoption of electronic health records (EHRs) in 2009. Since then, the number of hospitals using EHRs has more than doubled, and the number of doctors is increasing rapidly.
For those interested in pursuing a career in health IT, health information technology professionals are in demand. As the nation moves toward a more technologically advanced health care system, providers need highly skilled health IT experts to support them in the adoption and use of electronic health records. The Obama Administration has launched four workforce training programs to meet the demand for workers with health IT experience and training.
- Training is provided through 82 community colleges and nine universities nationwide. As of January 2012, over 9,000 community college students have been trained for health IT careers and another 8,706 students have enrolled. For more information and a list of participating community colleges, go to healthit.hhs.gov/communitycollege.
- Health IT Workforce Curriculum: The Federal government has funded the development of comprehensive curriculum free to all Americans. The health IT workforce curriculum offers colleges and universities in all 50 states innovative health IT teaching materials at no cost to instructors. Sign up for an account to access these materials for free at: www.onc-ntdc.org/
To learn more about the growing health IT sector, I encourage you to visit healthIT.gov and healthIT.HHS.gov. Opportunities within health IT are emerging as technology and innovation improves our health care system and the health and well-being of all Americans.
Wil Yu is the Director of Innovations at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.