Oswego Graduate Certificate Programs to Help Meet Demand for Digitized Health Records

OSWEGO — Two new SUNY Oswego graduate certificate programs in health information will help 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, also 15 credit hours, 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.

SUNY Oswego’s human-computer interaction master’s degree program, directed by Dr. 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 Dr. David King, dean of graduate studies. “From the first time we met with the MDA (former Metropolitan Development Association, now CenterState CEO) and regional hospitals and other health care providers, all have said there’s a really urgent need for training and advancing skillsets in this area.”

The Obama administration in 2009 announced the government would provide federal economic stimulus funds to help health facilities transfer paper files to electronic medical records. The state is investing $200 million in health information technology through the HEAL NY program. And regionally, the Health Advancement Collaborative of Central New York for six years has been developing a network for exchange of patient records called HealtheConnections.

Varied platforms

SUNY Oswego’s 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.

“We originally were looking at a two-year degree program,” King said. “What came out of all these discussions was the value of something more concentrated, like 15-credit-hour certificates, and another point was they recommended modules, and we will work on that.”

The certificate programs at this stage largely will be delivered through the SUNY Oswego 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.

The two new certificates bring to five the number of health-related graduate degree or certificate programs SUNY Oswego offers. The others are a 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.

For more information on SUNY Oswego graduate programs, visit http://www.oswego.edu/gradstudies or call 315-312-3152.