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Pittsburge open health IT training center for healthcare workers, managers, students

10:24 am by | 0 Comments

With patient care becoming more complex -- and with added emphasis on coordinating care and measuring the quality of care -- health care professionals need to know how to use emerging technology.

To meet that need, a new training center called QIT -- a merging of "quality" and "information technology" -- has opened in downtown Pittsburge.

The center already has held training sessions for an array of health workers, managers and students. In the past week alone, there have been sessions for 75 local emergency medical technicians, skilled nursing staff from five different organizations and more than 60 graduate medical students.

The center is a joint project of the Jewish Healthcare Foundation, the Pittsburgh Regional Health Initiative and Health Careers Futures, and is designed to be a central location offering specialized knowledge to area hospitals and schools that's not available elsewhere.

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On Wednesday, Karen Wolk Feinstein, president and CEO of the Jewish Healthcare Foundation, presided over a ribbon-cutting ceremony that included state Sen. Jay Costa, D-Forest Hills, and Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald.

The foundation and the Allegheny County Community Infrastructure and Tourism Fund each put in $200,000 to launch the center, which is located at the foundation offices in Centre City Tower on Smithfield Street. The center will be sustained financially through a mix of fees, grants and government support.

"HIT [health information technology] is here and it's here to stay," said Jason Kunzman, deputy director of the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in Washington, D.C. Mr. Kunzman also is the former CFO of the Jewish Healthcare Foundation.

Speaking via video link from Israel's Clalit Health Services, physician Ran Balicer, an internationally recognized expert on clinical quality improvement, said enhanced data has helped monitor patients and detected patient health issues before they became major health problems and even has prevented hospital readmissions. "IT and data are crucial to this process," he said.

At QIT, the roster of instructors "runs the gamut from peer to peer, graduate student to grad student, policy makers, our own small army of coaches and trainers, local and national thought leaders," said Ms. Feinstein. "It depends on what we are teaching, to whom, and our aspirations."

Training such as that provided by QIT is badly needed for young people pursuing careers in health care, said Dan Bishop, co-founder and chief innovation officer for Qualaris Healthcare Solutions, who is currently pursuing both a medical degree and a degree in biomedical engineering. Qualaris specializes in developing software to improve patient safety. Mr. Bishop is also a board member for Health Careers Futures.

Medical schools will teach all about the human anatomy, said Mr. Bishop, "but they won't spend time on the basics of information technology that will be an integral part of my practice."

For more information on QIT, contact the Jewish Healthcare Foundation at 412-594-2586.

Steve Twedt: [email protected] or 412-263-1963. ___

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