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Informatics students, alumni visit White House

Lend expertise to Town Hall Event on Health IT

Janet Ellingson and Donna Kenney, College of Nursing Training Certificate Program graduates, and Amy Nelms, a soon-to-be graduate, participated June 19 in a White House Town Hall event regarding health information technology -- building the electronic networks to support efficient and effective health care.The Office of the National Coordinator (ONC) for Health Information Technology and the Office of Provider Support (OPAS) invited these students, health care providers and insurance representatives to share ideas and discuss challenges.

"We are very excited that the University of Colorado College of Nursing was able to facilitate the selection of three of our students to participate in the White House Town Hall on health IT," said Diane J. Skiba, PhD, FAAN, FACMI, professor and project director of the Colorado HITEC Project, I-Collaboratory: Partnerships in Learning.

The range of perspectives represented by the invited participants impressed Ellingson who also sensed sincere interest in their opinions by the government officials.

Ellingson is passionate about expanding appropriate electronic health records and likens it to "how far we've come with the ease and convenience of electronic banking."

The college representatives also joined ONC on June 18 for a 'meet and greet' at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to network with other local health IT leaders, share stories and solutions to barriers for achieving meaningful use of informatics and to participate in communications training.

Ellingson and Kenney graduated in the summer of 2011 from the College of Nursing's first cohort in the Health Information Management and Exchange certificate program. Ellingson currently is working as a Cardiovascular informatics nurse practitioner at Integris Baptist Medical Center in Oklahoma City, Okla.

Kenney is a clinical systems support specialist at Mercy Suburban Hospital, a Philadelphia-area community-based hospital. She also is a current master's student in the college's Informatics Program.

Nelms is in the fall 2011 cohort of the Health Information Management and Exchange Program. During the second semester of the program, she responded to a job posting on the college's informatics social network from one of the college's graduates, Marie Arellano. Nelms was hired as a clinical designer, designing software applications for healthcare professionals at a local company, American HealthTech. She plans to graduate this summer and begin the college's master's program in the fall.

The students' program is part of the $2.6 million ARRA grant (American Recovery and Reinvestment Act) awarded to the Colorado Health Information Education Collaborative (HITEC) in 2010 to advance the widespread adoption and meaningful use of Health Information Technology (HIT) by educating professionals to work in this rapidly growing field.​