The race is on as organizations continue to strive toward goals of improving the use of information technology to promote quality and safety in our healthcare system. In 2013, organizations will continue to need vast numbers of HIT professionals to implement the design, installation and execution of systems to meet these goals.
What types of jobs will be in greatest demand in the coming year? HIMSS professionals offer these thoughts.
Dr. Jonathan Teich is Chief Medical Informatics Officer for Elsevier, assistant professor of medicine at Harvard and an attending physician in emergency medicine at Brigham and Women's Hospital.
He sees a real need for Implementation Specialists, Data Analysts and Clinical Decision Support Implementers. He will likely see the new faces in the hall, as the healthcare system with which Teich works converts its IT operation to Epic over the next six years.
“They’re hiring a whole bunch of people to implement one piece or another,” Teich said, “to interface with clinicians, medical staff and analysts for projects likely to come out of that implementation, such as quality improvement efforts.”
Similarly, those with solid credentials and experience in healthcare informatics will be in high demand in 2013, predicts Charlene Underwood, MBA, FHIMSS, the senior director of government and industry affairs for Siemens Medical Solutions.
As healthcare information exchanges continue to grow and connect providers, hospitals, laboratories, payers and patients, so grows the need for those with the skills to harness and interpret data.
Take, for example, the Affordable Care Act’s requirements associated with hospital readmissions. Hospitals are trying to gather data on readmissions to identify reasons and how they might be addressed.
“These are the people who can look at the data and communicate how it relates to the workflow, and how to share it with other providers in a meaningful way,” Underwood said. “These are the people who are going to help providers move through this transition more holistically.”
Additionally, as healthcare moves toward this systemic upgrade and HIT vendors help customers identify best practices, Underwood said, hospitals will need informatics professionals on hand to adapt those practices.
Scott Holbrook, MS, FHIMSS, is executive vice president of Medicity, the health information exchange solutions provider, and the HIMSS board vice chair. He predicts a strong need for Clinical Project Managers, Database Administrators and Knowledge Engineers, but with caveats for both job seekers and employers.
“In project management, both vendors and clients want people with professional certification and clinical experience,” Holbrook said. “You have to keep moving forward in your professional development.”
While database administrators don’t necessarily need clinical experience, those with recognized certification, such as designed by Microsoft, are likely to stand out among applicants.
The most highly sought knowledge engineer candidates, however, likely will be trained physicians with strong database skills. Their training will help bring together worlds of medicine and HIT, and allow them to view data on a common map.
“I see knowledge engineers on the vendor and clinical side at every major hospital organization,” Holbrook said. “With more and more systems coming together, knowledge engineers are critical. We’ll need to have people who can see how all systems flow together, and present a map view used by the clinical population. Those jobs will go to people who have had medical training and are very good with databases.”
Job-seekers need to be aware of the evolving role of HIT when determining a good fit.
“In our industry, response time is a big deal,” he said, citing both doctors’ expectation to have instantaneous access to data and images, and the work required to meet that expectation. “HIT people are the ones who keep systems running shipshape, 24-7. It’s a job with many demands.”
As such, workers should consider employers who consider more than a good salary for the chief information officer. Healthy workplaces for HIT professionals recognize the demands of the work and structure staff and compensation based on those demands. Additionally, employees receive support such as access to interesting projects that allow them to build skills and enhance their careers.
Ultimately, organizations will see the fruits of their HIT staffing choices on the bottom line.
“About two-thirds of physicians have a choice of hospitals with which to practice,” Holbrook said, “and they’re going to choose one that helps them care for patients most effectively. As a hospital, you want to be that choice.”