Consultant satisfaction, as measured across multiple criteria, ranked much higher than satisfaction rates for health IT employees and the global workforce as a whole, according to a survey of 446 health IT workers from consulting and staff augmentation firm Healthcare IT Leaders.
The survey, which examines job satisfaction and career motivations for health care IT professionals, highlights key differences in engagement between IT consultants and full-time IT employees in health care.
A significant majority of all health IT professionals, full-time employees and consultants, say their work is extremely meaningful or very meaningful, with meaningful work correlating strongly to job satisfaction; just 1 percent of respondents said the work they do is not at all meaningful.
Forty percent of consultants said they were very satisfied with their current pay, while only 18 percent of full-time employees said the same, although both consultants and full-time employees rank better compensation as the number one reason they would consider changing jobs.
"Our perception is that the pace of change and the greater demands on health IT departments are stressors for some [health IT] professionals," Brad Elster, president of Healthcare IT Leaders, told eWEEK. "That said, our survey shows that many are embracing these new challenges. Consultants, in particular, tended to rate their jobs as satisfactory, meaningful and challenging."
While a significant number (44 percent) of full-time employees feel work/life balance is important, it was not among the top five considerations for consultants.
Only one in 10 health IT workers said they are completely satisfied with their jobs and not open to a new job at this time, suggesting most are keeping an eye on the job market passively or are actively seeking new employment.
In addition, 14 percent of consultants say they are very likely to switch to become full-time employees in the next year while 13 percent of full-time workers say they are very likely to become consultants.
"If you look at the high percentage of respondents in our survey who would at least consider switching jobs, then you realize that you can't take your workforce for granted," Elster said. "Employers need to be attentive to their IT employees and understand what motivates them collectively and as individuals. It's far more cost-effective to retain your best workers then to replace them."
Overall, more than three-quarters (77 percent) of health IT consultants in the survey reported satisfaction in their current jobs, with 43 percent saying they are very satisfied and 44 percent "somewhat satisfied."
In contrast, just 64 percent of full-time health care IT employees reported satisfaction with their roles, while 19 percent said they are very satisfied and 45 percent are somewhat satisfied.
More than half (54 percent) of each group reported their jobs are extremely challenging or very challenging, a sentiment that is not too surprising, given the growing complexity of health IT initiatives, the increasing volume of work generated from government mandates and rapid advances in areas such as the cloud, big data and interoperability.
However, Elster noted mobile and cloud-based technologies are also beginning to change how IT work is being done in health care settings.
"While most [health IT] roles still require skilled professionals to work on-site, some jobs and projects can now be done remotely—either part-time or full-time—and that's certainly viewed as a positive change by many workers," he said.