Nationwide Health Information Network (NHIN) Workforce Study: Final Report
For the past several years, the nation has been working to improve health care through the widespread implementation of electronic health records. One clear prerequisite for accomplishing this goal is the availability of a trained workforce to implement the developing Nationwide Health Information Network (NHIN). Accordingly, the current research was designed to further our understanding of NHIN workforce issues by collecting, assessing, and analyzing existing knowledge and data in this domain with the objective of producing an initial estimate of the number of people needed.
This study gathered information through a series of four focus groups, five site visits, and direct communications with health information technology (HIT) vendors. The anticipated NHIN work was divided into three separate categories of activities for the purpose of assessing workforce: 1) electronic health records (EHRs) in physician offices; 2) EHRs in hospitals and other health care institutions; and 3) the health information infrastructure (HII) required in communities to link the various sources of records so that each patient’s complete electronic record could be available.
Assuming a 5-year time frame for NHIN implementation, results indicated that 7,600 (+/- 3,700) specialists are needed for installation of EHRs for the approximately 400,000 practicing physicians who do not have them already. For the hospitals needing EHRs (about 4,000), approximately 28,600 specialists are needed. Finally, about 420 people are needed to build the HII systems in communities to interconnect all these other systems. These data represent the first ever quantitative estimates of the workforce needed to implement the NHIN.
Tool: To assist in the further understanding and use of the results of this research, a workforce estimation tool was developed. This Workforce Estimation Tool is an Excel spreadsheet and allows for variable assumptions representing: 1) the time allotted for completing the NHIN, 2) the number of physicians needing EHRs, 3) the number of hospitals needing EHRs, and 4) the number of communities needing health information infrastructures. Values reflected in this tool as posted to ASPEs website are based on the ASPE workforce study with the calculations based on the study’s assumptions. All variables may be changed by the user of the tool with new resultant estimates of workforce changing accordingly to each user’s set of circumstances. The workforce tool description and an analysis of the ASPE study through the use of the tool serves as an example and is found in the final report.
Slides: The study results were presented as a Powerpoint slideshow to the American Health Information Community, EHR Workgroup on September 25, 2007.
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