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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.

Hospitals Stepping Up Security Risk Analysis, While Practices Lag

Posted on December 14, 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.

As hospitals have implemented EMRs, they’ve created a tempting target for criminal hackers, as the goldmine of patient data they house can be very valuable on the black market.  At the same time, patient access to health data has expanded dramatically, expanding possible points of failure.

Aware of these issues, hospitals are almost all conducting an annual security risk analysis, but fewer medical practices are on the bandwagon, according to new research by HIMSS.

Since 2008, HIMSS has conducted an annual security survey of healthcare providers, supported by the Medical Group Management Association and underwritten by Experian Data Breach Resolution. That first year, three-quarters of respondents (largely hospitals) said their organization had conducted an annual risk analysis.

For 2012, a total of 303 individuals completed the HIMSS survey, a self-selected Web-based survey. Those responding had to answer qualifying questions which verified that they were involved directly in working with security at their organization.

This year, a full 90 percent of hospitals reported conducting an annual risk analysis, while just 65 percent of physician practices said that they do so. (I’m actually surprised that so many physician groups are doing any kind of audit, but maybe the respondents came from larger practices.)

What’s really interesting, though, isn’t the mere fact that these organizations are taking their medicine and doing their risk surveys.  Some other highlights of the study:

* Twenty-two percent of respondent reported a security breach in the last year: While scary to contemplate, it’s nonetheless true that both hospitals and medical practices had a one-in-five chance of being breached this year. Most breaches affected less than 500 patients, but providers can’t count on that being the rule.

* Less than half of the hospitals and doctors had tested their data breach response plan:  Auditing your security arrangements is all well and good, but if you’re not sure your data breach plan will actually help you respond to breaches, it’s not worth the (digital) paper it’s written on.

As the pressure mounts to protect EMR data — across patient portals, mobile devices, laptops, desktops and more — let’s hope that physicians catch up with hospitals when it comes to security.  Otherwise, I think 2013 may be remembered as the year big ‘n ugly physician practice break-ins dominated the news.