Silicon Valley Nashville Sings Praises of Health Care IT Jobs

In addition to country music, Nashville is a major home to IT jobs, particularly in health care, according to a new report by the Nashville Technology Council.

Nashville is singing the tune of health care and IT. The Middle Tennessee area has a plethora of IT jobs available, particularly in health care IT, according to the Nashville Technology Council's Q1 2011 Technology Hiring Trends Report.

The council created the report along with Vaco Technology, a technology and finance staffing firm. Nashville can be described as the Silicon Valley of health care IT, according to J. Tod Fetherling, president and CEO of the council.

"We have the largest concentration of health services management in the entire country," Fetherling told eWEEK. "35 percent of all health care management decisions get made in Nashville every day."

In total, 925 IT jobs are available in Middle Tennessee, according to the report. These positions include 652 in Nashville and 206 in Memphis.

At the heart of the Nashville health care IT community is HCA (The Hospital Corporation of America), with 42 IT jobs open in the hospital system.

"Much like Dell really helped Austin move along and Intel helped create Silicon Valley, we've got HCA and CHS [Community Health Systems] that are having the same impact on our community," Fetherling said.

CHS had 28 positions, according to the report. Vanderbilt Children's Hospital and Deloitte also had several openings in health care IT.

"Nashville ranked 11th in the country this quarter in creating jobs with about 16,000 jobs created," Fetherling said. "Most of those were in health care IT."

The biggest need for IT workers in the Nashville area was for developers, with 290 positions available. In addition, 292 analysts were needed, along with 132 vacancies in management, 52 for Web developers and 44 for database professionals.

Although 28 positions were available on help desks, those jobs are harder to fill, according to Fetherling, who noted that the community has difficulty finding graduates in science and technology.

Nashville has a program called T3: Turning the Tide of Technology and is focused on increased the number of graduates in technology, Fetherling said.

T3 has 17 universities and 65 businesses collaborating on this goal, and progress has been made with a 40 percent increase last year in technology grads and 23 percent this year, according to Fetherling.

"So we're starting to see some impact in the local community of being able to get more people into technology degrees by focusing on it," Fetherling said.

Meanwhile, the Nashville Technology Council expects 5,000 new jobs in IT to be created in Nashville within the next five years, Fetherling said.

With all of the positions opening up, health care IT management wages might soar for manufacturing and services, according to Fetherling. "I think you're going to see a ton of wage pressures on the upward scale for health care IT in technology software and engineering," he said. "We're going to see constant pressure on the lower-skill jobs but an inflational pressure on the higher-end jobs."

In addition to Nashville and San Francisco, where health software provider McKesson is based, other major areas of the country where health care IT jobs are prevalent include Kansas City, Mo., where EHR (electronic medical record) software giant Cerner is located.

Other areas with an abundance of health care IT jobs include Madison, Wis., home of Epic Systems, and Minneapolis, where UnitedHealthcare and Mayo Clinic operate.