How 'Meaningful Use' in Healthcare Stimulus Means IT Jobs

By Donald Sears  |  Posted 2010-04-30 Print this article Print

If you are looking for a technology job and training, the government investment being put in to help the private sector become uniformly updated and practicing the use of electronic medical records and other key health IT programs is a real effort to help drive out long term costs, waste and administrative inefficiencies in healthcare as it is now. It's also trying to help save lives through these improvements.

It is expected to produce 50,000 jobs.

There are already a host of healthcare technology vendors including some of the ones you already know like EMC and Microsoft. But some of the other vendors include Humedica, Patientkeeper, Vecna, eCW, Intersystems, Concordant, Biscom, Bessemer Ventures, Life Image, NaviNet, Navigator Ventures, Meditech, T2Bio to name a few.

The only way the private sector will receive government funds is by adhering to a well-defined set of standards and certifications-- and these hospitals, clinics and doctor's offices need to prove that they are actually using the technology to these standards.

Don't believe me? One of the leading technology-centric doctors who knows a thing or two that went in to the program, Dr. John Halamaka, is the CIO at Harvard Medical, Beth Israel Deaconness and Chair of the US Healthcare Information Technology Standards Panel (HITSP)/Co-Chair of the HIT Standards Committee.

Look at what Halamaka says about how meaningful use will actually play out in a recent blog:

[U]nlike other countries where the government is creating its own infrastructure and dictating which systems the medical community must use, the Obama Administration's health IT program uses federal dollars to give an adrenaline boost to the market.

It does this in three ways: incentives to providers who use IT to achieve higher quality, lower cost care; non-proprietary strict standards to create a level playing field for users and sellers of software and hardware systems; unbiased certification of software to provider assurance that it meets basic quality, safety, and efficiency standards.

In a different post about a recent Massachusetts health summit, Halamaka sums up some of the key reflections and issues from a panel of key health IT vendor CEOs:

*The uncertainty in meaningful use and standards caused a delay in sales for 6 months, followed by record sales once hospitals and eligible professionals felt confident about their purchases

*Qualified staff is getting harder to find. Over the next few years, there is likely to be a competition for trained healthcare IT professional, similar to the Dot Com era. The states can really help by adding additional resources to community colleges for staff development as we prepare for 50,000 new HIT jobs.

If you are looking for a new career direction, you would be wise to look in to healthcare IT and get whatever experience you can in this sector either on the vendor side who service the hospitals and clinics investing in the technology or look to the systems integrators who are implementing and training users on the new technologies. As the CEOs have said, the demand is going to grow which likely means very nice salary options. Get in now.

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