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Nov 15, 2012 12:00:00 AM · by David Kushan

The Nations Shortage in Health IT Experts

The election has passed, and as Obama moves into his second term we can see that not much will change in the efforts of improving healthcare in the U.S. As we continue to move forward with Health IT initiatives, job demand is growing substantially. Government agencies are working toward a solution to ramp up the workforce of Health IT professionals, but we need the seasoned knowledge of the senior-level experts to lead us in implementation.

The Nation’s Shortages

As the political landscape remains largely the same, our country’s shortage of Health IT (HIT) professionals remains as well. In a recent reform toolkit published by the Alliance for Health Reform, statistics show the demand for Health Information Technology professionals.

Statistics from a survey conducted by CHIME show that 67% of hospital executives are falling short in Health IT departments when it comes to staffing. The demand for Health IT professionals has skyrocketed with the implementations of Meaningful Use (MU), the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), and the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act (HITECH), all of which provide funding for opportunities and implementation in HIT.

Success of Implementation

Another survey by CHIME was given to 182 CIOs to determine their current staffing needs within their Health IT departments. Of those 182 CIOs, 70% agreed that the shortages are beginning to raise concern as to the success of their implementation projects.

The most difficult hurdle is finding the professionals to fill these positions.

The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology is working with community colleges to develop the Health IT Workforce Development Program, which operates out of 82 community colleges in every state. More than 12,000 professionals have been certified since 2010, but what are the recent certification holders capable of contributing fresh out of school?

Hiring Experts

As a hiring firm, we work primarily with senior-level experts in the pharmacy informatics field. Many times, in speaking with hiring managers, we find that our clients need Health IT professionals who are seasoned in the software they’re implementing. Hiring senior-level experts ensures that they’re able to make the kind of progress needed in order to keep up with the timelines surrounding Meaningful Use and other government initiatives.

Another concern that comes up, pertaining primarily to pharmacy informatics, relates to medications in CPOE. Not only do prescribed medications make up the majority of order entries, but with prescribing mediations comes a higher level of consideration for building within the software. In order to ensure that a process is completed properly, you need an expert-level Health IT professional with an in-depth knowledge of the software complemented by a pharmaceutical education.

Although the government is making efforts to ramp up the workforce, what will be the implications to the quality of Health IT implementation?

How can we ensure that Hospitals and CIOs are receiving the expert-level staff needed to lead these implementations?

 

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Industry News, David Kushan

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