Office of Economic Development spearheads team that lands $4.7 million grant

John Provo

John Provo

BLACKSBURG, Va., July 13, 2010 – Twenty-five partners in a Virginia Tech-led team will help make health care workers proficient in the new world of electronic medical records.

Under a $4.7 million grant from the U.S. Department of Labor, the team drawn from industry, academia, and government will focus health information technology (IT) training in communities hard hit by job losses in Southwest Virginia.

“This grant is exciting for several reasons,” said John Provo, interim director of Virginia Tech’s Office of Economic Development. “First, this grant will train health care professionals and help advance the application of medical IT throughout the region.  Second, the grant will provide employment opportunities for displaced and underemployed workers and open the door to new career opportunities.”

Called HITE, for Health Information Technology Education, the initiative will target health care workers in nursing, pharmacy, and medical-assistant fields.  The grant provides $426,000 to underwrite work at Virginia Tech during the three-year life of the project.

Lance Matheson, associate professor of business information technology in the Pamplin College of Business, will work with five community colleges on curricula to incorporate health IT training. The lead applicant on the grant is Virginia Highlands Community College in Abingdon. Other community college partners are Mountain Empire, Southwest Virginia, New River, and Virginia Western.  Faculty at the University of Virginia at Wise will support curricula development needs and provide program guidance.

Key to the project’s success is partnership with local health care providers sharing input with the curriculum development advisory committee, Provo said.

 Industry partners include

 Mountain States Health Alliance will also participate through the following facilities

Each hospital and health system is in various stages of implementing an electronic medical records system, and many will benefit from having employees trained under the grant.

The region’s three Workforce Investment Boards in Roanoke, Dublin, and Lebanon will provide recruitment, assessment, job placement, and other services for the project.

Electronic medical records have been promoted for several years as a way to reduce unnecessary procedures, streamline and improve patient care, and improve patient safety, Matheson said. 

The Office of Economic Development is part of Virginia Tech’s Outreach and International Affairs. Watch a soundbite video in which John Dooley, vice president for Outreach and International Affairs, describes its work.

Virginia Tech’s Outreach and International Affairs supports the university’s engagement mission by creating community partnerships and economic development projects, offering professional development programs and technical assistance, and building collaborations to enrich discovery and learning – all with the overarching goal of improving the quality of life for people within the commonwealth and throughout the world. Outreach and International Affairs leads Virginia Tech’s presence on five continents; its regional research and development centers across the commonwealth focus on graduate education and professional development. Blacksburg-based centers are dedicated to student engagement, language, policy, and governance.