Health care IT has a shortage of perfect candidates, yet government regulations such as the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act and Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) are creating an urgency for personnel in health care technology more than ever before.
"It's reached a perfect storm stage and is one of the last industries to go through a total IT transformation," Eric Marx, vice president of health care IT for Modis, told eWEEK. Modis is an IT staffing subsidiary of Adecco Group.
Hospitals are struggling to find workers with clinical backgrounds, according to Marx.
"There are a lot of qualified people out there, and the gap they have is that most CIOs in hospitals are looking for clinical backgrounds that understand what medical jargon is," Marx said.
Finding health care IT workers with job skills specific to health care and electronic health records (EHRs) is difficult, according to Jack Cullen, president of Modis.
"I think in the health care field, it's that perfect candidate they're looking for-they're looking for the 'purple squirrel,' and how often do you find them?" Cullen asked.
Health care organizations are looking for IT workers with vendor-specific experience, according to Marx. That means the skills to operate EHR platforms from companies such as Cerner or Epic.
"A hospital that uses the Epic software package is looking for Epic-certified consultants," Marx said.
Recruiting workers with transferable skills from fields such as financial services may be necessary, however. A candidate may have SQL skills in finance that could be used in health care, since it's similar to the CCL language the Cerner EHR platform uses, Marx explained.
"You can't just pull them from one hospital to the next," Cullen told eWEEK. "You've got to get them from other industries."
In addition to skills, affordability is another area of difficulty, according to Marx. "Hourly rates and salaries are going through the roof, and most candidates have multiple offers at the time that hospitals are trying to land them," he explained.
Bending requirements might be necessary, Marx said. "We can't get A and C, but we can live with A+B," he said. Look at other skill sets to be productive pretty quickly.
Areas that will be hotbeds for health care IT jobs will be security, business intelligence and data warehousing, Marx noted.
"There's a premium on security folks and on folks that can take large amounts of information and get some value out of it, so business intelligence and data warehousing are significant," he said.
Metropolitan cities are key areas for health care IT jobs, according to Marx.
One area ripe for health care IT jobs is Nashville, Tenn., a Q1 2011 report by the Nashville Technology Council revealed.
"Nashville is definitely a hot spot for health care," Marx said. "There are some of the largest health care organizations in the country headquartered there."
Major health care systems such as the Hospital Corporation of America (HCA) and Community Health Systems (CHS) are based in Nashville.
"Rural hospitals and things of that nature don't have as much of a focus because they're working on a smaller scale within some stage agencies to help them out," he noted.
Health care should be a growing industry for IT workers in years to come with requirements for workers who can create products that support the new ICD-10 coding standard for claims and other documents. The Department of Health & Human Services mandates that all medical claims include ICD-10 codes instead of ICD-9 beginning on Oct. 1, 2013.
Workers will need the skills to create products such asVitalView from health care software developer VitalWare. VitalView is a dashboard application that allows hospitals and physician practices to keep up with ICD-10 timelines and requirements.
Government rules onaccounting for outcomes rather than pay-for-service are also an opportunity for investment in IT infrastructure, according to Marx.
"It looks like it's going to be a significant investment on the infrastructure side, but we haven't gotten into details on what that's going to look like yet," Marx said.