Health IT Workers in High Demand

To satisfy the demand for desired workers, HIMSS discovered that health care employers use multiple approaches to recruit qualified IT professionals.

health IT and employment

The high demand for qualified health IT professionals continues, with more than 84 percent of respondents to a HIMSS study reporting their organizations hired at least one staff member in the past year, a finding consistent with the 2013 survey (86 percent).

Clinical application support staff (58 percent) is the most sought-after position provider organizations plan to hire in the next year, an increase from 34 percent, as reported in the 2013 survey results.

To satisfy the demand for desired workers, the study discovered that health care employers use multiple approaches to recruit qualified IT professionals.

In addition, respondents considered IT recruiters and executive search firms to be the most effective resource to leverage in meeting their hiring demands.

"The lack of qualified health IT workers is primarily related to experience. With many academic programs centered on health informatics, there is no shortage of trained talent," JoAnn Klinedinst, vice president of professional development at HIMSS North America, told eWEEK. "However, there is a shortage of experienced talent. And how does one get experience without a position? This is a very difficult conundrum to solve."

Klinedinst said ways to address the lack of talent include cooperative programs, apprenticeship programs like the U. S. Department of Labor recently announced and even volunteering in an organization to learn more.

With hiring in 2014 expected to continue at the 2013 pace, 82 percent of survey respondents planned to hire at least one full-time employee (FTE) in the next 12 months, a slight increase from the 79 percent of respondents planning the same in 2013.

Health care provider organizations expect to continue use of outsourced services in the next year, with more than two-thirds (70 percent) of respondents reporting at least one area of anticipated outsourcing.

Use of outsourced services decreased this year, since the 2013 survey found 93 percent of health care provider organizations planned at least one outsourced service.

The benefits of outsourcing health IT staff include supplementing existing staff talent and providing resources that existing staff can learn from, Klinedinst explained.

From a drawback perspective, however, she said there must be a plan in place to ensure that the knowledge is transferred to those within the organization when the outsourcing agreement has ended.

"Mobile technology, while enjoying tremendous popularity, causes a multitude of challenges for health IT professionals, such as access, privacy and security, patients bringing their own devices and so on," Klinedinst said. "Health IT professionals must be alert to the latest trends and be prepared to accept changes of this rapidly changing landscape."

Even though the reported hiring of--or plans to hire--IT staff are quite high, the findings point to a 5 percent increase in staff layoffs between 2013 (8 percent) and 2014 (13 percent).

"With the focus shifting to the use of data, there are jobs today that will be needed in the future that we have not yet defined," she said. "There will always be projects, implementations, re-designs and many other tasks to focus on. It's an exciting time to be in health IT because of the focus on the patient, the processes and the technologies."