December 9, 2010 – The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology will conduct a series of surveys and focus groups to evaluate new programs at community colleges to train health information technology professionals through intensive courses lasting up to six months.

The training, funded through stimulus dollars and authorized under the HITECH Act to lessen a shortage of IT talent in the industry, started this fall. The goal of the community college courses, along with 12-month courses at several universities, is to reduce an expected health IT workforce shortage of 50,000 by 85 percent.

Under a notice published Wednesday in the Federal Register, ONC will conduct Web-based surveys or focus groups with about 1,500 students, 350 instructors and more than 30 others who are not enrolled in the training programs but will take the competency examination.

Evaluation of the Workforce Program "will explore challenges, provide critical formative feedback to the Workforce grantee institutions on their activities, and determine whether the Workforce Program overall was successful in helping to build a skilled workforce equipped to meet the heightened demands of the current environment," according to the notice.

This story originally appeared on Health Data Management.