Pierce offers new health IT degree

The new health IT degree will equip students to work in the health management field.


Chris Bonner


In order to serve students, Pierce College needs to be responsive to community needs and offer programs that are relevant in today’s economy.

The new Health Informatics and Integrated Technology degree program, opened to students this quarter, combines multiple disciplines to equip students to work in the health information management field.

A graduate of the two-year program will earn a professional associates degree and will be qualified to seek work managing healthcare information systems at hospitals, clinics, insurance companies and other healthcare institutions. Students also may choose to transfer to a four-year institution. Credit articulation with other colleges currently is being evaluated.

Pierce College will receive almost $572,000 to develop and expand the degree program. The money comes from a $11.8 million grant awarded by the U.S. Department of Labor to the Health e-Workforce Consortium, a group of eight community colleges in Washington (and one in Virginia) led by Bellevue Community College.

Each school is developing a degree program, focusing on a certain aspect of Health IT. These programs are intended to provide the skilled people needed in the industry, and help the 300,000 veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan deployments find long-term employment.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the health IT field is expected to grow by 20 percent through 2020. Much of this growth is being spurred by new federal regulations requiring healthcare providers to use electronic health records to facilitate transferring patient information and improving patient access.

The standard coding scheme for records is being revamped, going from about 6,000 unique codes to approximately 60,000.

This large increase in health data will require new systems and people to manage it. Pierce’s program will train students in database and network administration as well as medical terminology and transcription.

IT professionals working in healthcare will need special skills and knowledge in order to keep patients safe and their records secure.

“You can’t say oops if you do something wrong,” said Donna Moran, former head of the CIS department, who’s returned to Pierce to lead the new program and teach the database courses.

Students can find information on the HIIT program, including a list of courses, at www.pierce.ctc.edu/dept/informatics/.

Those interested in entering the program should talk to their advisor, organizers say.

Registration for the program has been open for several weeks, and students can register now for winter quarter.

For more information, contact program coordinator Jim Hendricks at 253-840-8364 or email at JHendricks@pierce.ctc.edu, or project lead Donna Moran at 253-864-3193 or email at DMoran@pierce.ctc.edu.

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Pierce offers new health IT degree

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