The Department of Health and Human Services took the next step toward training more than 4,000 people in public health informatics and technology by awarding $73 million in cooperative agreements Wednesday.
Awards went to 10 higher education and minority-serving institutions — with an emphasis on those serving Black, Hispanic, Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander people — that will form training consortia for the next four years.
The Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT‘s Public Health Informatics & Technology (PHIT) Workforce Development Program was funded through the American Rescue Plan Act to improve COVID-19 data collection and the diversity of the talent pipeline.
Unlike a contract, which is binding, cooperative agreements are more flexible to allow for consortia to be formed.
“While we work to tackle the pandemic, we won’t take our foot off the gas when it comes to preparing for any future public health challenges,” said HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra, in the announcement. “And as we work to expand talent, whether it’s in the field of technology or public health informatics, we will do so with an eye towards promoting diversity.”
The PHIT Workforce Program awardees are Bowie State University; California State University, Long Beach Research Foundation; Dominican College of Blauvelt, Inc.; Jackson State University; Norfolk State University; Regents of the University of Minnesota; University of Texas Health Science Center; University of Massachusetts at Lowell; University of California, Irvine; and University of the District of Columbia.
The hope is to make the talent pipeline continuous after the initial four years is up.
“It’s critical that we quickly identify and educate individuals from diverse backgrounds in public health, informatics and data science to cultivate a robust, sustainable public health workforce,” said Micky Tripathi, national coordinator for health IT, in a statement.