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Hospitals, Vendors Seek New Hires

Posted on July 16, 2013 I Written By

Anne Zieger is veteran healthcare branding and communications expert with more than 25 years of industry experience. and her commentaries have appeared in dozens of international business publications, including Forbes, Business Week and Information Week. She has also worked extensively 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.

EMR and EHR Jobs

Posted on October 1, 2012 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

One of the big challenges that is talked about all the time on healthcare IT and EMR is how to find a job or how to find the right person for the job that you have. I think it’s a bit of a strange environment, because I know a lot of companies that are talking about the challenge of finding qualified people. On the other hand I also know a lot of people that are looking for health IT jobs. Many who look to be very qualified. Given this, I always wonder how much of the problem is just connecting the right people and jobs together.

One thing that I started a number of years back was to create an EMR and EHR job board. I started it first on EMR and HIPAA. It’s done quite well on that site and so as I’ve done the redesign of the various websites in the Healthcare Scene blog network I’ve added the EMR and EHR job listings to every site on the network.

How it works is quite simple. If you’re looking for a job, go and take a look at the EMR jobs that are listed. If you have a job that you’re trying to fill, then you can post the job. Once the job is posted, it will appear on the EMR job board, and will also appear in the list of EMR jobs in the sidebar of the various Healthcare Scene blogs. Simple as that. I hope many will continue to find this service useful.

“Old Boys Club” of Healthcare IT

Posted on June 13, 2012 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

I’ve been giving some thought recently to what I call the “Old Boys Club” of health IT and the damaging impact to healthcare. I’m not really talking about an old boys club like most people think about. I’m sure there’s that in healthcare too, but this is referencing a mentality that I think exists in healthcare that should be recognized and addressed.

The basic concept is that healthcare IT rarely looks outside of healthcare IT for people with related expertise. This approach creates an insular environment where everyone is inside the healthcare IT bubble and start to exhibit the same thinking.

I realize I’m painting some rather broad generalizations, but I think a lot can be learned from looking at generalizations because they are generally true.

I think this idea really hits home to me as I think back on the massive number of EMR and healthcare IT job listings I’ve seen (Check out my EMR and EHR job board if you didn’t know it existed). It is so rare to find a healthcare IT job that doesn’t ask for healthcare experience. I’ve heard many complaints from people coming from other sectors of the economy who have IT experience, but no healthcare experience. In many cases, those people are having a really hard job cracking the “no healthcare experience” barrier. My biggest suggestion to these people is to beg, borrow and steal so they can get healthcare experience.

Certainly, I’m quite familiar with the unique attributes of healthcare IT. So, I can understand why someone hiring a healthcare IT job can benefit having someone who has some healthcare background. However, I can’t help but wonder if healthcare wouldn’t benefit from a few more healthcare IT outsiders joining our ranks. They could provide a fresh perspective and ask fresh questions that could really move us forward. My fear is that many hospital IT people are afraid of the fresh perspective.

I’m glad that my first healthcare employer took a chance on me. I’m a little bias, but I believe it worked out really well for them. I think breaking up the “Old Boys Club” a little bit with some fresh outside perspectives could be really beneficial.

Hospitals: Don’t Just Fatten Consultants, Train New Talent

Posted on March 6, 2012 I Written By

Anne Zieger is veteran healthcare branding and communications expert with more than 25 years of industry experience. and her commentaries have appeared in dozens of international business publications, including Forbes, Business Week and Information Week. She has also worked extensively healthcare and health IT organizations, including several Fortune 500 companies. She can be reached at @ziegerhealth or www.ziegerhealthcare.com.

I’m going to do some speculation here — when I researched this issue, hard numbers were, well, hard to find — but maybe you’ll find the following to be worth considering.

Right now, every statistic I read suggests that most CIOs feel unprepared to move through the stages of Meaningful Use.

In fact, in a survey by the estimable healthsystemCIO, 46 percent of hospital CIOs reported that they plan to spend a “significant amount” on consultants to meet MU goals, and a whopping 62 percent said that their institutions don’t have the right resources or expertise in place to complete IT projects on their own. Sounds ugly.

On the other hand, though, more than two thirds (69 percent) of respondents said that getting funding in-house for consultants won’t be any harder than securing funds for software investment. Read: the board and C-suite are nervous  enough to throw whatever resources they need at the Meaningful Use problem.

I’d argue that this is a rare opportunity for  chronically understaffed hospitals and CIOs on the verge of a nervous breakdown.  What if, given that the money pump is flowing, hospitals spent some of the money on consultants and some on consultants who can train the right people to be a permanent support.

After all, universities continue to pump out master’s prepared IT graduates, some of whom are aware of the problems hospitals face. There’s  bright young architects and experienced folks from other industries to consider, too.

And what about training physicians with an IT bent to come over to IT full time?  My own contacts suggest that this might work, given that there’s a definite subset of doctors who are geeky types comfortable with technology. (For some reason, this seems to be more common among middle-aged physicians than the old or young, but that might just be my own experiences.)

Even if you try a small pilot program, CIOs, I’d argue that it’d be difficult to lose under these circumstances. If it works, you squeeze more benefits out of your huge consulting investment AND get staffed up further. If it doesn’t, well, nobody expects every pilot project to work, right?

Hospital Health IT Use Climbs, But Will Health IT Worker Supply Keep Up?

Posted on February 20, 2012 I Written By

Anne Zieger is veteran healthcare branding and communications expert with more than 25 years of industry experience. and her commentaries have appeared in dozens of international business publications, including Forbes, Business Week and Information Week. She has also worked extensively healthcare and health IT organizations, including several Fortune 500 companies. She can be reached at @ziegerhealth or www.ziegerhealthcare.com.

This week,  HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced that the number of hospitals using IT doubled over the last 24 months. Not coincidentally, she noted that HHS has handed out a truckload of incentive payments in recent times. More than 41,000 doctors and about 2,000 hospitals have gotten $3.1 billion in incentives.

As one might imagine, hospitals and practices are hiring on new professionals to manage all of this IT, ranging from EMR specialists to developers to “data exchange professionals” working on HIE-type projects. And looked at one way — from the federal government’s perspective, say — it’s great to hear that HIT investment is generating jobs.

The thing is, the health IT worker shortage everyone’s screaming about hasn’t gone away.  According to a recent brief from the eHealth Initiative, 25 percent of HIE initiatives have too few staffers in place with serious IT experience.  (My guess is that the number is at least that high in hospitals and even higher for mid-sized or smaller medical practices.)

The government has made some efforts to address the problem. As some readers may know, the Office of the National Coordinator’s Health IT Workforce Development program has workforce training programs in place to help meet the demand for health IT workers. The courses are being rolled out at nine universities and 82 community colleges. To date, apparently, more than 9,000 community college students have gotten health IT training, with 8,706 enrolled to train.

But even if these programs were turning out more than enough employees, it seems that employers aren’t yet confident about the quality of graduates. The same eHealth Initiative report concludes that very few HIEs are currently planning to hire or have hired workers from the workforce development program. The report doesn’t say why, but I’m guessing that it’s a matter of waiting to see how the program’s first few crops of grads work out.

This makes me wonder: Is there a way to turn out more health IT workers in a manner that would inspire the immediate urge to hire? For example, would a program routing Ivy League IT grads into health IT programs make a bigger dent? Would love to hear your thoughts.

Five Reasons To Be Thankful For Your EMR

Posted on November 23, 2011 I Written By

Anne Zieger is veteran healthcare branding and communications expert with more than 25 years of industry experience. and her commentaries have appeared in dozens of international business publications, including Forbes, Business Week and Information Week. She has also worked extensively healthcare and health IT organizations, including several Fortune 500 companies. She can be reached at @ziegerhealth or www.ziegerhealthcare.com.

‘Tis the time of year to count our blessings, and since we’re here to talk about EMRs, what better time to consider the blessings EMR adoption has brought us.

After all of the expense and time and training and politics and patches, it’s easy to forget why we bothered to bring an EMR on board. But let us not forget what we’ve gained:

1.  Vivid “disaster” stories to tell at health IT conventions. Sure, a lucky few hospitals have smoothly-running EMRs in place, but let’s face it, most are still struggling with integration issues, ugly interfaces, painful workflow transitions and edgy users. But that’s not as bad as it seems. Remember, you get a lot more street cred from making a lousy EMR run than you do for your flawless revenue cycle install.

2. Job security. OK, this isn’t a guarantee, but if your bosses are smart, they’ll be terrified to let you go if you’re the one who really understands the system. After all, if you go it won’t be pretty.  Sure, the CEO could call in the vendor or a consultant to make the EMR work, but a) it’ll cost a fortune and b) your hospital could lose data, violate HIPAA, crash the system or lose a critical interface to, say, labs or the pharmacy. If your CEO is smart he’ll be sending you flowers.

3. Impressing people with new acronyms.  Even before EMRs began rolling out, IT pros have relied on a huge list of acronyms to get our business done. With the advent of EMRs, and clinical data sharing generally, we’ve opened a huge storehouse of new acronyms.  Nothing impresses the ladies more than acronyms, boys — take it from me.

4. Popularity.  Without a doubt, you’re already used to calls from frantic users who don’t know how to use the software your hospital has so generously provided. Or at least you’re used to hearing about the crazy folks your staff has to handle. Now, with an EMR in place, users are far more dependent on your technical skill, wisdom and largesse.  Not only will clinicians seek your advice, they’ll hang on your every word, offer to TiVo old episodes of  The Office and pick up your dry cleaning. It’s good to be the king.

5. Sex appeal.  Now that you’re running the EMR everyone counts on, you’re a power player. You seem tanned and prosperous. Vendors buy you lunch. And thusly, your cool rating goes through the roof. Guys, did I mention that women love acronyms?  And women, you’re in the driver’s seat now; remember, there’s no aphrodisiac like power, and a woman who can pull your charting privileges is one to be feared.