Graduate certificate programs help meet demand for electronic health records

Two new graduate certificate programs in health will help address a pressing need, fueled by federal mandates and incentives, for trained workers to make medical records available electronically across the spectrum of health care providers.

A 15-credit-hour certificate in health information technology will help prepare systems professionals to deal with the latest innovations for handling medical information securely and seamlessly.

Another certificate will provide training and background in integrated health systems for medical workers dealing with human-computer interaction, communication techniques and social networking technologies in the rapid transition from paper-based health records systems to digitized ones.

The human-computer interaction master’s degree program, directed by Damian Schofield, will offer both certificates with assistance from faculty in computer science and psychology.

“I do know that the practitioners in hospitals and the physicians are very happy we are doing this,” said David King, dean of graduate studies. “From the first time we met with the MDA (former Metropolitan Development Association) and regional hospitals and other health care providers, all have said there’s a really urgent need for training and advancing skill sets in this area.”

The Division of Extended Learning, working with Graduate Studies, did a market survey three years ago of health care agencies, hospitals, insurers, physicians’ groups and other practitioners to learn what kinds of educational programs were needed for the conversion to networked electronic medical records. King and others also had discussions at Welch Allyn, a leading manufacturer of medical instruments, and other area businesses.

The certificate programs at this stage largely will be delivered through the Metro Center, online and on the main campus, King said. The college eventually will package modules-immediate training in technology-rich areas such as data mining-that workers in the health care field can take online, without signing up for the entire certificate program.

The two new certificates bring to five the number of health-related graduate degree or certificate programs SUNY Oswego offers. The others are the mental health counseling master’s degree program with state licensure, and graduate certificates in gerontology and play therapy. Five others ranging from trauma studies to health communication are in development.

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