To assist in the further understanding and use of the results of this research, a workforce estimation tool has been developed (Table V). In the Workforce Estimation Tool spreadsheet, the variable assumptions representing the time allotted for completing the NHIN (5 years), number of physicians needing EHRs (400,000), number of hospitals needing EHRs (4,000), and number of communities needing health information infrastructures (300) are clearly indicated. These values may be changed by the user of the tool and the resultant estimates of workforce (which are calculated based on these assumptions) will change accordingly.
Note in particular that for the hospital EHRs and community HII, there is a calculated value called “N implementation cycles.” Since the anticipated period for implementation of these types of systems are long (17.3 and 15 months, respectively), this item represents the number of complete sequential implementations that can be done in the overall period specified for completing the NHIN. In the example shown, only three complete 17.3-month periods can occur in 5 years for hospital EHRs, while four 15-month periods can be accommodated for community HII. Since the implementation period for a single physician’s EHR is so short (about 23 days), there was no need for a similar calculation to avoid counting incomplete projects of that type.
As an example of the type of analysis that is possible with this tool, Figure 1 shows the changes in the workforce estimates when the time to complete the NHIN is varied from 2 to 8 years. The workforce requirements for physician office EHRs, hospital EHRs, and community HII are shown separately.