Health Information Technology (HIT) Workforce Needs in Rural America

Research center:
Lead researcher:
Project funded:
September 2011
Project completed:
July 2014

Statement of the Problem: Goals: To improve understanding of health information technology (HIT) workforce needs and constraints in rural primary care settings, this study will determine rural primary care practices' current and projected level of electronic health record (EHR) and health information technology (HIT) adoption and estimate demand for workers with HIT skills.

Methods: This study will survey a stratified sample (large and small rural areas) of approximately 1,600 rural primary care practices across the U.S. The questionnaire will assess EHR and HIT implementation at the facility level; their relative need for different components of the HIT workforce; and whether they train and develop HIT staff from within, hire new staff, employ consultants, and/or join forces with other institutions to fill these workforce needs. We will include questions about the institutions' current HIT workforce, expected future demand, education and training resources available to the institution and its staff, and other workforce related factors that support or impede the practices' implementation and use of HIT. Our descriptive analyses will produce national rural and sub-rural estimates of findings. The study will also identify relationships between specific practice attributes and HIT workforce variables.

Anticipated Publications: We will produce a final report and policy brief, and prepare a manuscript for submission to an appropriate journal. We will make the survey questionnaire available to others by posting it on our website.