Some health IT jobs hard to fill

Healthcare employers seek unique combination of skills in one person
By Nicole Lewis
12:00 AM

As healthcare delivery organizations adopt a plethora of technologies to manage patient data, the quest to find qualified health IT workers to implement a smart health IT enterprise has become more challenging in recent years.
"The talent pool for many skills in healthcare IT is shallow and demand exceeds supply in many areas," said Judy Kirby, president and CEO of Kirby Partners, a national healthcare IT executive search firm.
Kirby has spent more than two decades assisting academic medical centers, integrated delivery networks, health systems, and consulting firms to find the right individuals for their key health IT positions.
She said since the passage of federal financial incentive programs to encourage healthcare organizations to shift from paper-based patient charts to digitized health records, the growth of electronic patient data has led to a need for skilled technology employees who understand clinical data and workflow. Additionally, Kirby said IT positions that require a clinical background are hard to fill because it's challenging to find people who have both skillsets.
"I see a real shortage of talent to fill chief medical information officer positions," Kirby said. "It's also challenging to find individuals with business intelligence competencies who can see patterns and trends in electronic health data and provide information that can help clinicians make better decisions."
Like other industries, healthcare is facing depletion of senior management as baby boomers move into retirement, Kirby noted. Additionally, for the first time in many years, other verticals are recruiting talent from healthcare. One healthcare CIO told Kirby that in his area, the oil and gas industry was offering less work and higher compensation and he was losing quite a few key technical staff members. "There is definitely a war for talent," Kirby said.
"David Foote, chief analyst and co-founder of Foote Partners, an analyst firm focused on IT human capital, said even when healthcare delivery organizations fill IT position, oftentimes the organization is not getting what they want because they require candidates to possess a unique combination of skills.
"Healthcare is one of those industries where they require health IT workers to have a very interesting and very unique combination of skills in the same person, everything from business management skills, to clinical knowledge and IT skills," Foote explained.
Foote said his list of difficult jobs to fill in health IT include enterprise architects, those charged with breaking down silos in a hospital and creating an interoperable enterprise-wide system that facilitates the exchange of data between different departments. Additionally, Foote listed hybrid IT business analysts, security specialists, cloud computing specialists and a variety of software developers that are creating new health applications for mobile devices.