Trends in HIE Organizational Staffing: A Deeper Look at Staffing Challenges

Following the release of their 2012 collaboration, "Trends in HIE Organizational Staffing," HIMSS and AHIMA established a joint workgroup to explore the professional roles that the initial survey identified as most challenging to fill in HIE settings: connectivity, data integrity and data integration.

Representatives from 16 HIE organizations responded to a detailed survey on their current staffing profiles and anticipated hiring needs for these roles. This white paper presents the results of this effort, including:

  • current staffing and salary information;
  • desired education, skill sets and experience;
  • specific challenges in hiring for these positions; and
  • recommendations for health IT professionals seeking jobs in these areas.

Related Documents

BLOG: AHIMA and HIMSS - Looking at HIO Hiring Trends

PRESS RELEASE: For HIE Staffing, Connectivity, Data Integrity and Data Integration Positions Difficult to Fill

Read an Excerpt: 

Executive Summary

The American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) and the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) originally released a 2012 survey, Trends in HIE Organizational Staffing: AHIMA/HIMSS Staffing Model Environmental Scan, to support their organizational goals of highlighting the staffing needs and requirements for this type of health information exchange organization.   As Health Information Exchanges (HIEs) and Health Information Exchange Organizations (HIOs) nationally continue to mature and evolve, it is important and relevant to understand their current requirements for information technology (IT) and heath information management (HIM) skills and experience specific to a number of staff roles, and to understand how these organizations recruit and maintain talent.

A joint AHIMA and HIMSS workgroup was once again convened to develop and provide oversight for the 2014 HIE Technology Staffing Challenges Survey.  The goal of this analysis is to provide valuable insights that can assist other HIOs as they evaluate and implement their current and planned staffing requirements.

The 2014 AHIMA/HIMSS HIE Technology Staffing Challenges Survey focused on three particular positions that were previously identified as the most challenging roles to staff and retain as well as how best to recruit for this type of talent:

  • Connectivity
  • Data Integrity
  • Data Integration

The survey identifies the key elements of today’s HIE challenges related to requirements for staffing their IT positions, including but not limited to:

  • Metrics regarding the HIO and its operational reach
  • Total number of employees as compared to IT employees
  • Skills sets required for each identified position (i.e. Connectivity, Data Integrity, or Data Integration)
  • Levels of experience for each identified position
  • Salary ranges for the positions
  • Composition of staff model (i.e. full-time employee, part-time employee, consultant, outsourced positions to vendor, etc.)
  • Recruitment approaches
  • Turnover by type of position
  • Challenges for these roles
  • Challenges related to the projects in which the current staff is engaged in

Representatives from 16 HIOs completed this survey.  As a result of this limited sample size, the survey does not represent all types of HIOs that are in place today; nonetheless, the respondents provide valuable insights that can benefit their peers.  Results are quantified in the study when the question is fully answered.  For those occasions when a question is not answered by all participants, the information is identified, but not quantified.  

In addition, if there are any patterns that can be derived from the responses, then this information is included.  When appropriate, a reference to the survey question is included when reporting the corresponding findings, in order to assist the reader.  Finally, for the survey questions that are identical to the 2012 survey, a comparison of the findings is included to determine what change(s) may have occurred.

The primary purpose of this white paper is to present the summary findings from the 2014 survey as reported by the participating HIOs.

HIE Survey Participants – General Demographics

Survey participants included organizations that have been operational since as early as 1996.  Hospitals and physician practices are the primary types of participating organizations, yet since the 2012 survey, there are a growing number of other healthcare entities benefiting from the sharing of patient information.  As of the time of this writing, the participants have identified a variety of these organizations that benefit from sharing patient information including, but not limited to:

  • payers
  • behavioral health centers
  • fire department / Emergency Medical Services (EMS)
  • nursing homes
  • long-term care facilities
  • Visiting Nurses Associations (VNAs)
  • state public health entities
  • Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs)

HIE Survey Participants – Employee Demographics

The majority of participating HIOs identify a broad range of total current employees, ranging from 1.5 to 47 full-time equivalents (FTEs).

Given the range of supporting IT staff, the participants fell into two categories: those who staff fewer than 10 IT employees and or those who staff 10-20 IT employees.        

A number of the HIOs use a combination of staffing models including full-time and part-time staff, employees who job-share, on-site contractors and outsourcing.   Additional details are provided in the Survey Results section of this white paper.

HIE Position-Specific Information

Based on the 2012 Survey, three types of IT positions were identified as most challenging to staff within HIE organizations: Connectivity, Data Integrity and Data Integration. The second part of the 2014 survey focuses on two specific areas related to staffing: (a) the recruitment and retention of talented staff in support of the HIO’s IT requirements, and (b) the status of these staff members (i.e. full-time employee, part-time employee, consultant, etc.).

Keywords: 
HIE, staffing, AHIMA