Federal Funds Boost Security Training

Universities Get HITECH Funding to Train CISOs, Others
Federal Funds Boost Security Training
As more physician group practices and hospitals implement comprehensive electronic health records systems in hopes of winning incentive payments from Medicare and Medicaid, they're going to need help tackling information security issues.

The Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act, which provided funding for the incentives, also is funding training for a new generation of security specialists.

A total of $32 million in federal grants is supporting the launch this fall of healthcare information technology training programs at nine universities. The universities will provide one-year certificate programs in six healthcare IT specialties, including privacy and security. The training is designed for those who already have a relevant undergraduate or graduate degree and want healthcare-specific training as well as those who already work in healthcare as systems analysts, implementers and application supporters and want to expand their skills.

The universities hope to train about 300 new security specialists starting this fall, says Charles Friedman, Ph.D., chief scientific officer at the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, which is implementing much of the HITECH Act.

"We believe that security and privacy is a significant aspect of health IT," Friedman says. "We are investing to create specialists in this area who are able to understand, apply and manage these emerging technologies."

The Participants

The participating universities are:

  • Columbia University;
  • University of Colorado Denver College of Nursing;
  • Duke University;
  • George Washington University;
  • Indiana University;
  • Johns Hopkins University;
  • University of Minnesota;
  • Oregon Health & Science University;
  • Texas State University.

Upon completion of the program, graduates will be prepared to take on such roles as information security officer, health information privacy and security specialist and chief information security officer, says Mathew Palakal, Ph.D., associate dean for graduate studies and research director at Indiana University School of Informatics.

"They will be responsible for developing and administering a comprehensive healthcare and information security program for an organization," Palakal says. "Our focus is to help our states and the nation fill this void with qualified workers."

The Indiana University program will cover the fundamentals of security as well as policies and regulations, including the HITECH Act and HIPAA, Palakal said. Topics covered will include security architectures, cryptology, risk assessments and business continuity, among many others. Community College Program

In addition to the university-based education effort, the HITECH Act is providing another $36 million in funding for training at more than 80 community colleges in all 50 states. This program does not yet offer security training.

These non-degree health IT training programs can be completed in six months or less. The programs are designed to help train more than 10,500 new health IT professionals annually through 2012 for such specialties as implementation support, information management redesign and consulting to physicians.

Later, another community college grant program will help fund additional course offerings, which will include classes on security and privacy, Friedman says.

"We need installers, configurers of EHRs and nurses to understand protected health information exchange and deliver secure healthcare services and applications as needed in the 21st century," Friedman says.

About the Author

Upasana Gupta

Upasana Gupta

Contributing Editor, CareersInfoSecurity

Upasana Gupta oversees CareersInfoSecurity and shepherds career and leadership coverage for all Information Security Media Group's media properties. She regularly writes on career topics and speaks to senior executives on a wide-range of subjects, including security leadership, privacy, risk management, application security and fraud. She also helps produce podcasts and is instrumental in the global expansion of ISMG websites by recruiting international information security and risk experts to contribute content, including blogs. Upasana previously served as a resource manager focusing on hiring, recruiting and human resources at Icons Inc., an IT security advisory firm affiliated with ISMG. She holds an MBA in human resources from Maharishi University of Management, Fairfield, Iowa.

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