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Which health IT jobs are most in demand by providers? Clinical training, informatics professionals top the list

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Health IT professionals with clinical experience and certified trainers are in big demand as providers race to implement health care IT systems to comply with everything from Meaningful Use provisions to electronic medical record adoption. But the pace of hiring is also highlighting a big complication of the implementation process — organizations are not doing enough to implement new healthcare IT systems in a realistic timeframe to allow for enough end user training before the system goes live.

TEKsystems Healthcare Services Vice President Allen Kriete told MedCity News that the average health care IT professional is getting 26 job inquiry calls per week. “There is a shortage — real and perceived — in finding the right people.” Perceived? Kriete says part of the problem is that hospitals need to do a better job of selling themselves and enticing health care IT professionals to work for them.

Certified middle management training staff who can show clinicians how to use electronic medical records are much sought after.

There’s also a need for troubleshooters who can overcome the challenges of implementing technology. Rich Miller, senior vice president for Information Technology and talent strategies at health care professional recruiter B.E. Smith, told MedCity News that the adoption and utilization of health care IT systems was the focus right now for care providers and hospital staff and training is one element of that. “Hospital clients and individuals I speak to understand that just deploying technology is not enough. The only way to derive value from the technology is to gain acceptance from the clinicians.”
Various software suppliers have certification award to individuals to be certified trainers. Providers can decide whether it makes more sense for them to purchase those services or hire someone to do that.

Kriete said hospitals need to get better organized to hire healthcare IT staff they need so they can ensure staff are adequately trained before they begin using it. “A lot of hospitals are waiting too long in the process to get curriculum builders on staff,” Kriete said. It’s not like this problem has materialized overnight. Back in 2009, there were projections of a shortfall of 50,000 healthcare IT staff and that was thought to be significantly understated. But it is only getting worse. “A crisis is coming as more and more organizations are forced to react in shorter and shorter timeframes and there will be tradeoffs,” Kriete said.

In a survey of 300 hospitals by TEKsystems and HIMSS Informatics, 57 percent of respondents said they struggle with finding the right people to build a training program.

The supply of HIT talent is not keeping pace with the demand – from clinical trainers, builders and consultants to project and program managers, according to Kriete. Miller noted that clients are struggling to find individuals who have proven clinical backgrounds who also have the knowledge and comfort with information technology to lead the transformation of health care IT systems. There’s also a strong need for staff with a nursing informatics or a health care informatics background.

The irony of the timeline for providers to convert to electronic medical records and meet the requirements for ICD-10 as well as Meaningful Use in time to get the financial incentive to cover it is that it seems to have overlooked the shortage of qualified health IT staff to actually carry it out effectively. This could have significant repercussions on how well these systems function and the capability of health care professionals to use them, illustrated in a recent Pennsylvania Patient Safety Authority and ECRI Institute report. Healthcare facilities are facing a herculean task to balance financial considerations with advancing their IT systems. Hopefully providers will get more time to develop more sensible timelines to make implementation more organized and ensure staff get enough training time to be comfortable with these systems.

By Stephanie Baum


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