What You Should Know:
– The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) today announced the establishment of an $80M Public Health Informatics & Technology Workforce Development Program (PHIT Workforce Program) to strengthen U.S. public health informatics and data science.
– The PHIT Workforce Program aims to train more than 4,000 individuals over a four-year period through an interdisciplinary approach in public health informatics and technology.
PHIT Workforce Program Overview
Under the PHIT Workforce Program, ONC will award up to $75 million to cooperative agreement recipients and use the remaining $5M to support the program’s overall administration. Award recipients will need to ensure their training, certificate, degree, and placement programs are sustainable to create a continuous pipeline of diverse public health information technology professionals.
In addition, ONC is inviting college and universities—particularly Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), Tribal Colleges and Universities (TCUs), Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSIs), Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander-Serving Institutions (AANAPISIs), and other minority-serving institutions (MSIs)—to apply for funding through a consortium that will develop the curriculum, recruit and train participants, secure paid internship opportunities, and assist in career placement at public health agencies, public health-focused non-profits or public health-focused private sector or clinical settings.
Bolster Representation of Underrepresented Communities in Public Health IT Workforce
Today’s announcement supports the Biden-Harris Administration’s efforts to root out pervasive health and socioeconomic inequities that have been exacerbated by the pandemic and ensure our health care system is better equipped for the next public health emergency. The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed gaps in our public health reporting and data analysis, particularly around race and ethnicity-specific data. Some of these gaps can be attributed to limited technological infrastructure and chronic underfunding of the staff needed to support public health data reporting at the state and local levels. Federal efforts to center equity in the COVID-19 response and future public health responses will be improved by robust data collection and reporting around infection, hospitalization, and mortality rates, as well as underlying health and social vulnerabilities, that is disaggregated by race and ethnicity, age, gender, and other key variables.
“Representation is important – particularly when we are deploying technology to tackle our most pressing health care challenges. Ensuring that diverse representation is better reflected all throughout our health care system is priority for the Biden-Harris administration,” said HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra. “With this funding, we will be able to train and create new opportunities for thousands of minorities long underrepresented in our public health informatics and technology fields. Investing in efforts that create a pipeline of diverse professionals, particularly in high-skilled public health technology fields, will help us better prepare for future public health emergencies.”