Electronic Health Records

Adoption & Implementation News

EHR, informatics, health IT jobs 2.5% of all healthcare hiring

By Jennifer Bresnick

It might not sound like much, but 2.5% of all healthcare jobs are directly related to EHR system implementations, informatics, and other health IT strategies, according to research published in Industrial Relations: A Journal of Economy and Society. Most of the 434,282 positions open between 2007 and 2011 are due to opportunities created by the HITECH Act, says Aaron Schwartz and colleagues, with 39% of job listings posted by healthcare providers themselves.

Implementation support was the most sought-after skill, with 43% of listings requiring system installation, purchasing, or workflow design responsibilities.  This is not in the least surprising when correlated with the first stage of the EHR Incentive Program and the mad rush for providers to switch from paper to electronic record keeping.  The HITECH Act was associated with an 86% increase in monthly job postings containing the phrases “electronic health record” or “clinical informatics,” Schwartz says.

The unprecedented demand for health IT workers has left healthcare organizations with empty places to fill, however.  A lack of skilled applicants has plagued the industry, and may continue to delay EHR adoption or EHR replacement projects to this day, according to a recent HIMSS Analytics Workforce Survey.  Nearly half of participants have already put projects on hold due to being unable to hire a qualified candidate, and 75% admitted to outsourcing work instead of hiring directly.

Schwartz found that 42% of vacancies were advertised by health IT vendors, which place a high value on professional certifications and often offer generous benefits packages.  Despite an investment in employee retention, however, HIMSS found that many providers and vendors alike lost employees due to more attractive offers at other employers.  The robust competition for qualified candidates is good news for out-of-work recession victims, but not such a great deal for organizations trying to complete federally mandated projects like ICD-10.

As the HITECH incentives turn into penalties, it will be interesting to see how healthcare organizations plan to further critical projects and retain their staff.  Will the fight grow fiercer as providers grow desperate to keep as much money in their coffers as possible?  Or will the increasing number of health IT certifications, degrees, and learning opportunities produce enough qualified candidates to ease the burden?

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