Introducing The Healthcare Technology Specialist Certificate Program

It is with great pride that DSNs Paula Hodge and John Cordova share the exciting news of a new interdisciplinary, industry-recognized national certification: The Healthcare Technology Specialist Certificate Program and digital badge awarded by the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA). The journey that led to its development with involvement from three colleges (College of the Canyons, Santa Barbara City College and Saddleback College) is part of the Industry Drive Regional Collaborative (IDRC) grant funded by the California Community College Chancellors Office.

AHIMA is a national premier professional association of health information management (HIM) professionals worldwide. Serving 52 affiliated component state associations and more than 103,000 health information professionals, it is recognized as the leading source of “HIM knowledge,” a respected authority for rigorous professional education and training. This new certification is one the great outcomes of the IDRC grant awarded from the Chancellor’s Office in 2015 for the development of the Healthcare Information Technology Specialist- model curriculum driven by the Deputy Sector Navigators of Information & Communications Technologies and Health. The overall goal of the grant was to provide a training program for entry level workers in the healthcare arena of health information and IT. Following a Statewide Advisory Roundtable, three colleges gained momentum on identifying courses that aligned with industry chosen skills and competencies required for this role. A 6-course model curriculum was developed by faculty from three community colleges. It is a model of a cross sector, cross regional approach to providing training needs for the incumbent worker. The pilot training was rolled out as part of the grant with the involvement of the three colleges in 2016.

As AHIMA—which had independently conducted its own assessment for this arena—became aware of the work being done in California, some of the key members of the team (DSNs, and faculty, industry liaisons) were invited to become part of its workgroup to develop certification competencies, the national exam itself, and its eligibility requirements.

The second outcome is the adoption of the pilot program in the CCC system. The certificate proposed at Saddleback College: Healthcare Technology Optimization Specialist (HCTOS)–mirrors the pilot. Saddleback College is expecting to offer the certificate by Fall 2018. By doing so, Saddleback College will be the first (and currently the only formal program) not only in the State, but the country to adopt a curriculum that it was involved in creating for the Chancellor’s Office and AHIMA, and one that aligns with AHIMA’s industry recognized certification.

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