As the nation moves toward industry-wide adoption of electronic health records (EHRs), the Bureau of Labor Statistics expects a shortage of about 50,000 qualified health IT workers to meet the needs of hospitals and healthcare affiliates. The Certified Healthcare Technology Specialist (CHTS) competency exams allow professionals and employers to capitalize on new technologies, procedures and careers.
The CHTS exams assess the competency of individuals seeking to demonstrate proficiency in certain health IT workforce roles integral to the implementation and management of electronic health information. The CHTS exams assess the competency of health IT professionals to:
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Candidates who sat for the CHTS exams, under the free voucher program, who wish to acquire a CHTS certificate will be required to submit a certificate order form with the required $35 fee (for each certificate requested).
Training and Recommendations
There are six separate CHTS exams. Each pertains to a HIT workforce role instrumental in meaningful use of Electronic Health Record (EHR) systems.
Exam blueprints and exam information can be found in the Candidate Guide.
Purchase & register for CHTS exams
The Clinician/Practitioner Consultant Examination conveys the background and experience of a licensed clinical and professional or public health professional. Workers in this role will:
Implementation Manager Examination demonstrates a candidate’s ability to provide on-site management of mobile adoption support teams throughout the implementation process of health IT systems. Prior to training, workers will have experience in health, IT environments, administrative or managerial positions. Workers in this role will:
Implementation Support Specialist Examination tests a candidate’s ability to provide on-site user support throughout the health IT system implementation process. Previous background in this role includes information technology or information management. Workers in this role will:
This Exam portrays the skills needed to reorganize a provider’s work to effectively use health IT to improve health care. Candidates may have backgrounds in health care or information technology, but are not licensed clinical professionals.
Workers in this role assist in reorganizing the work of a provider to take full advantage of the features of health IT in pursuit of meaningful use of health IT to improve health and care. Individuals in this role may have backgrounds in health care (for example, as a practice administrator) or in information technology, but are not licensed clinical professionals.
Workers in this role will:
Technical/Software Support Staff Examination assesses a candidate’s ability to maintain systems in clinical and public health settings, including patching and upgrading software. Candidate backgrounds include information technology or information management.
Workers in this role will:
Trainer Examination conveys the ability to design and deliver training programs to employees in clinical and public health settings. Previous background includes experience as a health professional or health information management specialist. Experience as a trainer is desired.
Workers in this role will:
Candidates have 3 hours to complete each 125 multiple choice exam. The tests are graded on a scaled score – a conversion of the number of questions answered correctly to a scaled score ranging from 300-600. Candidates need to score a 500 to pass.
There are many reasons to take the CHTS exams and to hire qualified CHTSs:
Because of new technology, qualified technical support and management professionals will be needed across hospitals, clinics and other healthcare organizations.
CHTS competency exams ensure that a competent workforce is ready to effectively implement and manage the use of electronic health records. They show expertise and competence, proving a readiness to seize new opportunities in an expanding market.
The CHTS is a long-term validation of healthcare and IT skills—the cornerstone of a successful health IT career.
Health IT Employers – Health Information Technology Professional Competency Exam
Electronic health records will increase safety, efficiency, and the quality of patient care. This will leave a considerable need for qualified individuals to support installing, using and maintaining EHRs.
CHTS competency exam will assess competency in various healthcare IT roles. The exam will determine if a candidate is qualified to support your EHR transition efforts.
Typical CHTS exam candidates will be:
Individuals who pass the CHTS are health IT-competent and ready to implement or manage your EHR activities.
The CHTS exams can also help you measure the health information technology (IT) competency levels of your existing staff or as a pre-employment assessment. Use this information to identify training opportunities or discover gaps in employee proficiency to make improvements in your organization.
CHTS exams provide potential employers with an assessment of your CHTS knowledge. The benefits include:
Encourage your students to take the CHTS exams. Give them the advantage to assess their comprehension of their CHTS knowledge.
The CHTS exams were designed to assess the competency of health IT professionals who will be instrumental in the transition to electronic health records (EHRs). The six CHTS exams were developed according to industry best practices, and are valid, reliable, and legally defensible assessment instruments.
The CHTS Competency/Role Teams (CRTs) are comprised of experienced health IT leaders, practitioners, and educators representing the six health IT workforce roles on which the exams are based. CRT member responsibilities include participating in the job analyses, reviewing content relevancy, item-level and exam-level performance data, and participating in standard setting exercises.
Comprehensive job analyses were conducted for each of the six workforce roles. Diverse panels of SMEs were convened to establish the provisional knowledge, skills, and abilities (KSAs) for each role. SMEs later created a crosswalk mapping these KSAs to the core curriculum component learning objectives (from the HITECH Community College Consortia Workforce Development program) for each role.
When developing the exam blueprints and specifications, items are selected for inclusion on the CHTS exams based on how their content maps back to, or measures, a core curriculum component learning objective and / or a task delineated from the job analysis for that respective HIT Workforce role. In the exam blueprints, the domains, which represent specific content areas tested on the exams, are comprised of the core curriculum components for that role. Additionally, the competency statements are comprised of the corresponding curriculum learning objectives.
All items used on each CHTS examination are created, reviewed, revised, and ultimately approved by item writers and item reviewers who are health IT subject matter experts (SMEs). These item writers receive extensive training in item writing best practices prior to creating any raw test items.
All draft items undergo a continuous review and revision process, where they are evaluated by SMEs on content accuracy and conformity to the item writing guidelines. Items are also reviewed for linkage or correspondence with a learning objective from a core curriculum component for that respective HIT Workforce role.
Ongoing item management occurs through a continuous process of statistical analysis to ensure items are performing as expected. Poorly performing scored items are replaced with experimental items which meet or exceed our performance criteria. This replacement item must be comparable to the item it is replacing with regards to item difficulty and content assignment. Poorly performing items may be salvaged and improved through item revision, review, and approval.
Psychometric analysis of item and exam performance is conducted on a continuous basis. This data is used to determine the cut score, or passing standard, using a widely-accepted, best-practice methodology, such as the Modified Angoff method.
The passing scores for each of the CHTS exams were determined by a panel of SMEs, including educators and practitioners, who participated in standard setting studies. These standard setting studies were convened to establish the operational definition of the minimally competent candidate, which is used to determine the passing or cut score. A candidate’s performance on an exam which meets or exceeds this cut score will be deemed competent to serve in the relevant workforce role.
To determine an exam’s cut score, the SME panels first defined the minimally qualified candidate. Then, panelists practiced rating exam items for difficulty with respect to their estimation of the proportion of minimally qualified candidates who would answer each item correctly. Panelists then reviewed the entire exam individually and applied the same item evaluation process. The group’s ratings were then averaged across raters and summed to reach the cut score recommendation.
The current passing scaled score for all CHTS exams is 500 out of 600. A scaled score is a mathematical conversion of a raw score (number of questions answered correctly). The scaled score is determined by converting the number of questions answered correctly to a scaled score ranging from 300-600. Candidates need a minimum scaled score of 500 to pass a CHTS exams.
Below are the pass rates for the beta cohort (those testing before the launch of the live exams with immediate scoring):
# of Test Takers in Beta Cohort
Pass Rate of Beta Cohort
May 20, 2011 – October 17, 2011
May 20, 2011 – October 2, 2011
Implementation Support Specialist
May 20, 2011 – September 29, 2011
Practice Workflow & Information Management Redesign Specialist
Technical/Software Support Staff
May 20, 2011 – October 6, 2011
May 20, 2011 – October 11, 2011
22 industry stakeholders have been appointed to serve on the CHTS Advisory Council, which is responsible for advising the CHTS exams development team and endorsing the examination blueprints, specifications, and passing standard(s). Advisory Council members bring unique perspectives to the group, as they are affiliated with primary and supporting grant partners, the Curriculum Development Centers, the Community College Consortium, Regional Extension Centers, the Department of Labor, and other industry/employer stakeholder entities.