New Certificate Offers Healthcare IT Training

Indranil Bardhan

Healthcare management and information systems are flourishing disciplines that the Naveen Jindal School is combining in a new certificate program intended to give students professional credentials in the burgeoning field of healthcare information technology.

The beginning class in the three-course Healthcare Information Technology Certificate program teaches core concepts, such as how to identify and understand key data requirements related to patients and care in medical settings. A second course covers the use of analytical tools that can refine data to help in medical decision making.

But the key differentiator of the program “is hands-on training in Epic,” a leading software for electronic medical records (EMR), said Dr. Indranil Bardhan, JSOM associate professor of information systems. The semester-long program course he created, Information Knowledge Management in Healthcare, includes a substantial lab-based component, with guided EMR exercises and assignments.

In researching need for the certificate, Dr. Bardhan counted more than 70 hospitals in North Texas. “At any given time,” he said, “we found more than 100 open job listings in health IT in the DFW area.

His findings align with federal government forecasts projecting rosy job prospects for computer-related occupations, with nearly the same outlook for healthcare information technology jobs. The U.S. Department of Labor calculates a 22 percent growth rate in IT employment from 2010 through 2020, and it puts the growth rate for medical record specialists at 21 percent.

Even before the certificate program gained approval this past spring, Dr. Bardhan said, “several of our students got placed in jobs at UT Southwestern Medical Center, Texas Health Resources, Baylor, and even at Epic.”

Open to graduate-level degree- and non-degree-seeking students, the certificate program “supports [the JSOM] goal of growing the number of graduates in healthcare management, especially in healthcare IT,” Dr. Bardhan said.

“At another level, we have focused quite a bit of resources in expanding research on healthcare IT,” he added.

Dr. Bardhan was principal investigator in two UT Southwestern Medical Center studies to develop predictive models for patient readmissions due to congestive heart failure. He will speak on his findings at the 2012 Patient Safety Summit, a two-day event that the Dallas-Fort Worth Hospital Council Foundation is hosting in mid-August.