Healthcare IT gets its own cert

CompTIA launches new professional credential: Healthcare IT Technician

If you're equally comfortable with acronyms like EKG, PET and ICU as you are with SSL, NAS and LAN, then this tech credential might be right up your alley.

The CompTIA Healthcare IT Technician certificate is aimed at IT pros who deploy and manage electronic health record (EHR) systems. It's a vendor-neutral credential that validates a candidate's understanding of IT operations, medical business operations, security, organizational behavior and regulatory requirements in a medical environment, claims the nonprofit trade association CompTIA.

Having both healthcare knowledge and tech expertise is an attractive combination as the U.S. healthcare system shifts from paper to electronic health records. (See also: Healthcare IT jobs lucrative but tough to land)

"The federal government estimates that upwards of 50,000 new healthcare IT professionals are needed in the next few years to service the thousands of healthcare practices expected to implement EHR systems," said Terry Erdle, CompTIA's executive vice president for skills certification, in a statement. The CompTIA Healthcare IT Technician credential is designed to help identify IT pros who have the right mix of clinical and systems expertise for jobs such as implementation support specialists and technical/software support staff.

More than 80 community colleges are now offering instruction on healthcare IT careers, according to CompTIA.

Acquiring the requisite expertise is no cakewalk, however.

So far, the more successful candidates who complete continuing education programs for healthcare IT have been clinical people, such as nurses and doctors, who want to learn the IT side, according to Eric Marx, vice president of Health Care IT at staffing firm Modis. It's been harder for IT practitioners who want to learn the healthcare side.

"What we've seen so far is that it's a bigger challenge for the IT people," Marx said in an earlier interview with Network World. "A nurse may know exactly what a certain medical device is and what it does, or know anatomy and medical terminology having worked in a hospital environment. It's a much more challenging adjustment for straight IT workers."

Most healthcare CIOs say they prefer people who come with a clinical background and have increased their IT skills, Marx added.

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