Starting a Health IT Career



What suggestions can you provide someone interested in a Health IT career to get inspired and motivated to get started?

Answers from Chris Belmont:

A career in Health IT can be very rewarding but challenging. I personally am motivated by the industry itself and the great things being done for the patients and communities. I find it very gratifying that I can participate in the health of our community. Services provided by Health IT professionals have been more indirect in the past. Recent advancements and the changes to the way patients interact with healthcare providers cause us to participate directly. Portals, instrument interfaces, online messaging, scheduling, eVisits and in-home monitoring use technology as the connection. We as IT professionals are active participants in the continuity of care. 

Embrace Change

The challenges are also part of my motivation. We have an opportunity to revolutionize the way healthcare services are provided. Our industry is lagging in the adoption and use of technology. Much of this comes from the legacy approach to a physician-patient interaction. It is assumed that the only way to provide care is to have face-to-face contact in the doctor's office or hospital. Technology can offer a similar experience but more convenient and less disruptive to the patient, often with similar outcomes and a lower cost. I am motivated by these opportunities and driving change. The airline industry, banking and so many other service industries have embraced this change. It is now our turn. Bringing best practices from other industries to healthcare is very exciting. 

First Position

As far as getting started, find an interesting entry point into Health IT. Get that first position and next thing you know it will consume you. There is so much to do with constant change that you will be amazed at the number of opportunities. All I ask is that you challenge the norm, make our industry better and keep the patient at the center of everything we do.

Answers from Melinda Costin:

Chris has provided a marvelous response to this question! This is the era above all others where the technology that we can put in the hands of our clinical users and our patients is more important than ever. Indeed, as you investigate the changing landscape of healthcare, the quality and cost effectiveness of care is becoming increasingly important. To enhance this dynamic, we will need to support new workflows and communication methods to both our care givers and their patients.

Consider your own record management

Just to get started, consider your own management of your healthcare record. Is it electronic? Can you communicate with your primary physician electronically? When you are referred to a specialist, does your primary physician know the outcome? Can you keep track of your medical history in a convenient way and share it with others as appropriate? These are the exciting needs that face our industry and we need all the creativity and inspiration of those within it to assist our country in providing the highest quality of care at an affordable cost!

Get involved with HIMSS

If you are new to this industry, I recommend that you get involved in your local HIMSS Chapter. These meetings will not only allow you to meet others in the field, but to hear presentations on what healthcare organizations are doing today to prepare for the future. There is also a HIMSS Job Board that will highlight job opportunities.

Operational Experience

It is useful, as you join the healthcare IT environment, to have some actual operational experience. Even volunteering at your local hospital would be valuable. However, if you check their web sites, you might find a position that will provide you with valuable insight into the industry and the obvious needs that can be addressed with technology. This background exposure would provide you an advantage as you move to a career in healthcare IT.