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Poll: Providers Struggle To Roll Out Big Data Analytics

Posted on April 10, 2017 I Written By

Anne Zieger is veteran healthcare editor and analyst with 25 years of industry experience. Zieger formerly served as editor-in-chief of FierceHealthcare.com and her commentaries have appeared in dozens of international business publications, including Forbes, Business Week and Information Week. She has also contributed content to hundreds of healthcare and health IT organizations, including several Fortune 500 companies. She can be reached at @ziegerhealth or www.ziegerhealthcare.com.

A new poll by a health IT publication has concluded that while healthcare organizations would like to roll out big data analytics projects, they lack many of the resources they need to proceed.

The online poll, conducted by HealthITAnalytics.com, found that half of respondents are hoping to recruit data science experts to serve as the backbone of their big analytics efforts. However, many are finding it very difficult to find the right staffers.

What’s more, such hires don’t come cheaply. In fact, one study found that data scientist salaries will range from $116,000 to $163,500 in 2017, a 6.4 percent increase over last year’s levels. (Other research concludes that a data scientist in management leading a team of 10 or more can draw up to $250,000 per year.) And even if the pricetag isn’t an issue, providers are competing for data science talent in a seller’s market, not only against other healthcare providers but also hungry employers in other industries.

Without having the right talent in place, many of providers’ efforts have been stalled, the publication reports. Roughly 31 percent of poll respondents said that without a data science team in place, they didn’t know how to begin implementing data analytics initiatives.

Meanwhile, 57 percent of respondents are still struggling with a range of predictable health IT challenges, including EMR optimization and workflow issues, interoperability issues and siloed data. Not only that, for some getting buy-in is proving difficult, with 34 percent reporting that their clinical end users aren’t convinced that creating analytics tools will pay off.

Interestingly, these results suggest that providers face bigger challenges in implementing health data than last year. In last year’s study by HealthITAnalytics.com, 47 percent said interoperability was a key challenge. What’s more, just 42 percent were having trouble finding analytics staffers for their team.

But at the same time, it seems like provider executives are throwing their weight behind these initiatives. The survey found that just 17 percent faced problems with getting executive buy-in and budget constraints this year, while more than half faced these issues in last year’s survey.

This squares with research released a few months ago by IT staffing firm TEKSystems, which found that 63 percent of respondents expected to see their 2017 budgets increase this year, a big change from the 41 percent who expected to see bigger budgets last year.

Meanwhile, despite their concerns, providers are coping well with at least some health IT challenges, the survey noted. In particular, almost 90 percent of respondents reported that they are live on an EMR and 65 percent are using a business intelligence or analytics solution.

And they’re also looking at the future. Three-quarters said they were already using or expect to enhance clinical decision making, along with more than 50 percent also focusing laboratory data, data gathered from partners and socioeconomic or community data. Also, using pharmacy data, patient safety data and post-acute care records were on the horizon for about 20 percent of respondents. In addition, 62 percent said that they were interested in patient-generated health data.

Taken together, this data suggests that as providers have shifted their focus to big data analytics– and supporting population health efforts – they’ve hit more speed bumps than expected. That being said, over the next few years, I predict that the supply of data scientists and demand for their talents should fall into alignment. For providers’ sake, we’d better hope so!

Hospitals, Vendors Seek New Hires

Posted on July 16, 2013 I Written By

Anne Zieger is veteran healthcare editor and analyst with 25 years of industry experience. Zieger formerly served as editor-in-chief of FierceHealthcare.com and her commentaries have appeared in dozens of international business publications, including Forbes, Business Week and Information Week. She has also contributed content to hundreds of healthcare and health IT organizations, including several Fortune 500 companies. She can be reached at @ziegerhealth or www.ziegerhealthcare.com.

Hospitals and health IT vendors are on something of a hiring binge, with the majority of both groups planning new recruitment over the next 12 months, according to a new study of the health IT workforce from HIMSS Analytics, Healthcare IT News reports.

The HIMSS study, which was published last week, was based on the responses of about 225 executives in the two industry sectors.

More than 85 percent of respondents to the survey said they’d hired at least one employee during 2012, and 79 percent of execs in both industry categories plan to hire additional IT staff during the next year. In sharp contrast, only 13 percent went through layoffs during 2012.

Providers were more likely to say that they were hiring for clinical application support positions and help desk IT staff, while vendors were more likely to be looking for sales and marketing personnel.

Though both segments were hiring, industry vendors were more likely to report having hired staff than providers, according to the Healthcare IT News write-up.

To attract these new hires, both groups cited competitive salary and benefits programs as key, with job boards (70 percent) and employee referrals (69 percent) most frequently used to recruit in both cases.

To retain the staff they recruited, both groups were most likely to use professional development opportunities; telecommuting and tuition reimbursement were also popular.

Despite all of this recruitment activity, some healthcare organizations are falling behind, largely due to the lack of a local qualified talent pool, survey respondents said. And it’s causing problems. In fact, about one-third of providers said that they’d had to put an IT initiative on hold due to staffing shortage.

It’d be nice to think that with the right recruiting razzmatazz in place, these staffing shortages would be a thing of the past. But the reality is, the pool of health IT experts can’t be expanded overnight  — it takes training, possibly subsidized training, and the right kind of training at that.

And as my colleague Jennifer Dennard notes, while certain troublespots are being addressed (for example, building a talent pool for rural hospitals), even those efforts are hamstrung by the reality that students aren’t getting trained on the systems they’ll need to work on when hired.

The reality is that this will continue to be a great time for health IT consultants, even as hospitals and vendors duke it out for permanent  hires.  Hospitals simply can’t put projects of importance off forever.

If you’re looking for a job in healthcare IT or looking to hire someone for a healthcare IT position, be sure to check out the EMR and EHR Job board. It gets a lot of visibility in the sidebar of all the Healthcare Scene blogs.

Health IT Worker Shortage Worse Than Expected

Posted on March 14, 2013 I Written By

Anne Zieger is veteran healthcare editor and analyst with 25 years of industry experience. Zieger formerly served as editor-in-chief of FierceHealthcare.com and her commentaries have appeared in dozens of international business publications, including Forbes, Business Week and Information Week. She has also contributed content to hundreds of healthcare and health IT organizations, including several Fortune 500 companies. She can be reached at @ziegerhealth or www.ziegerhealthcare.com.

Battered by growing needs and increasing competition, managers hiring for health IT face a worse shortage than previously expected, according to research by PwC.  Because hiring needs are so acute, many healthcare hiring executives are expecting to change strategies for hiring over the next year, the consulting firm reports.

Right now, 75 percent of providers are currently hiring health IT employees, PwC found. But it’s not the same old same old when it comes to recruiting approaches. Over the next year, more than three-quarters of  health execs expect to shift strategies in hiring, thanks to mounting pressures both internal and external.

These pressures are varied. Seventy-nine percent of those surveyed by PwC expect an increase in technology investments in the coming year, 62 percent are worried about the availability of needed skills, and 51 percent are threatened by the speed of technology change, PwC’s research found.

Meanwhile, it’s not just competition with other providers that has healthcare CIOs worried. According to PwC, they face health IT labor competition from drug and device companies, HIT vendors and health insurance firms as well.

When it comes to skills, providers said clinical informatics was most important in meeting their goals. But they’re willing to compromise, and are increasingly borrowing IT specialists from other industries to meet their hiring needs.

To gain an advantage in health IT hiring, employers must pull off a neat trick, the building of their reputation as a place to work, PwC advises. Researchers note that providers who build their IT identity and brand will be in the best position to hire, manage and most of all keep key health IT workers on board.

Health IT Staff May Not Mature Fast Enough To Handle EMR Growth

Posted on February 25, 2012 I Written By

Anne Zieger is veteran healthcare editor and analyst with 25 years of industry experience. Zieger formerly served as editor-in-chief of FierceHealthcare.com and her commentaries have appeared in dozens of international business publications, including Forbes, Business Week and Information Week. She has also contributed content to hundreds of healthcare and health IT organizations, including several Fortune 500 companies. She can be reached at @ziegerhealth or www.ziegerhealthcare.com.

Getting enough bodies in the door to roll out and stabilize your EMR the first time is labor-intensive enough.  After all, mounting an enterprise EMR isn’t just a job, it’s a project that combines the delicacy of painting the Sistine Chapel roof on your back with the complexity of a thousand-way chess game.

But that’s just the beginning. The truth is, once the dust begins to settle, the EMR isn’t done, it’s just completed its first stage of evolution. It’s at that critical point, where your youthful EMR begins to mature and grow more diverse, that the real health IT staff crunch is likely to hit, according to a new PwC study.

To make sure they have staffers who can handle not only launch but also ongoing development of their EMR, healthcare organizations have been investing in informatics specialists, particularly those who can handle EMR implementation, data integration and interoperability.

The thing is that (not surprisingly) they’re having trouble finding the specialists they need. PwC’s Health Research Institute’s recent survey concluded that four in ten hospitals surveyed feels that a lack of skilled informatics team members will hold back their clinical informatics programs.

In what may be worse news, PwC researchers found that half of hospital and physician respondents found that clinical and technology teams  are misaligned right now, and that unless the two sides come together, it’s  unlikely they’ll be able to put advanced analytics in place in doctors’ daily workflow.

It’s hardly surprising that there would be a shortage of clinical informatics specialists, given that theh American Board of Medical Specialties approved clinical informatics as a board-certified medical subspecialty in just September 2011.  On the other hand, my gut feeling is that there are more IT friendly doctors and nurses who could be cross-trained relatively quickly than they’ve accounted for yet.

I think hospitals are more likely to meet their informatics recruitment goals if they do as much to develop internal talent as hunt for fresh blood. How about you?