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Job titles change as health IT evolves

As the healthcare IT workplace evolves, occupational needs change. Consequently, career management specialists say, new job titles are being created to address the demands of the new environment.

“We are seeing the scope and scale of positions narrowing,” said Judy Kirby, president and CEO of Heathrow, Fla.-based Kirby Partners, a national IT recruiting firm. “A few years ago IT departments sought people with more general healthcare experience. Now positions are requiring specific skill sets.”

Kirby cited ambulatory install specialists as one example, along with growth in “associate” CIO positions who serve as seconds-in-command for CIOs.

“CIOs are being pulled in so many directions they do not have enough time for the day-to-day management of their departments and need someone to help with these tasks,” she said.

Due to the mushrooming importance of business intelligence in healthcare organizations, management is also creating new titles around that function, Kirby said.

Increasing clinician involvement in IT is also resulting in “C” suite-sounding titles, such as chief nursing informatics officer, chief clinical informatics officer and chief applications officer, though Kirby conceded that these titles “haven’t quite caught on as fast as others.”

Even so, clinician interest in IT is skyrocketing because they are attracted to IT as a way to increase their positive impact on patient care, she said.

“One of our clients says that over one-third of their entire IT department is made up of clinicians,” she pointed out. “There are currently 10 CIOs who are MDs and many more who have taken the CMIO route who say they are ready and willing to step into a CIO role. There are also many nurses in the CIO position. A clinician at the helm or in key leadership roles will continue.”

Jim Gibson, president of Ridgefield, Conn-based Gibson Consultants, says titles are varying by organization, with some fixated on specific functions, such as electronic health records, analytics and predictive modeling for population health management.

“Yes, job descriptions are being re-written and new ones are being created,” he said. “But it still comes down to turning data into actionable information and achieving better outcomes.”

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