The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology has announced a "Health I.T. Professionals Competency Examination," a series of six exams to enable individuals to demonstrate their skill level in various roles and to enable health care organizations and vendors to assess the skills of their I.T. staffs.

The new examination program is funded under the HITECH Act. ONC in April 2010 awarded a $6 million grant to Northern Virginia Community College, which partnered with the American Health Information Management Association and testing firm Pearson VUE to develop the exams.

The exams are designed to align with roles and training provided under the ONC-sponsored community colleges training program and are open to graduates of the program and individuals already in the workforce. Employers, for instance, could use the exams to identify additional training needs for existing staff, according to ONC. Individuals also could take one or more exams on their own to burnish their credentials.

The six areas covered in the exams are clinician/practitioner consultant, implementation manager, implementation support specialist, practice workflow and information management redesign specialist, technical/software support staff, and trainer.

Vouchers for free exams, on a first-served basis, are available at for 27,500 U.S. health I.T. workers. Eligible individuals include those trained through the community college program and others with relevant experience, training or education. ONC has selected 230 sites across the nation where the exams will be offered. Individuals unable to obtain a voucher can pay $299 for an exam. The cost for re-taking an exam for the same role or an additional exam is $199.

--Joseph Goedert


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