HIT Workforce Shortages Dog Industry
The College of Healthcare Information Management Executives (CHIME) recent survey of its I.T. executive members indicates that demand is more urgent for experienced HIT workers. Following are snapshots of the surveys key findings.
A 2010 survey by CHIME found that 59% of respondents reported shortages on their I.T. staffs. Two years later, with focused attention on implementing EHRs at the nations hospitals, the 2012 CIO I.T. staffing survey found that 67% of respondents are experiencing shortages.
Respondents from academic medical centers were the most likely to report staff shortages, with 82% indicating unfilled positions. Some 69% of CIOs from multi-hospital systems; 64% of respondents from hospital/clinic model facilities; and 59% from community hospitals also reported staff openings.
The percentage of respondents to the 2012 CIO survey who expressed concern that staffing challenges will negatively impact their organizations chances to receive HITECH stimulus fund payments dropped slightly when compared with 2010. In 2012 59% said shortages either would definitely or possibly affect chances of qualifying for funding, compared with a total of 70% who responded in 2010.
By bed size group, the biggest impact of staff shortages on receiving stimulus funding was reported by CIOs from smaller organizations. When asked if staff shortages would impair their organizations ability to receive stimulus funding, 75% of respondents from facilities with 100 to 199 beds, and 72% of respondents from organizations with 200 to 299 beds responded that shortages would definitely or possibly affect their chances.
Retention of I.T. staff is a growing concern; in 2012, 85% of respondents indicated they were worried about retaining I.T. staff, compared with 76% in 2010. Current concerns about retention may reflect apprehension over the increasing number of I.T. projects, which include EHRs, ICD-10 planning in advance of the eventual use of ICD-10 codes, HIE initiatives and other efforts that involve IT and impact hospital operations, according to CHIME.
Most CIO respondents said they expect their budgets for I.T. staff would grow only slightly next year; 66% of respondents estimated that their budgets for staffing in 2013 would rise by only 4% or less over what was budgeted for 2012.
When asked what new skills would be needed going forward, respondents identified business intelligence, analytics, program management, clinical software and data management to be areas of need.
The 2012 survey sought to assess the impact of the new national Health IT Workforce Development program developed by the Office of the National Coordinator, which offers non-degree health IT training programs that can be completed in six months or less.
The survey found that 68% of respondents are aware of the community college and university-based training programs, which had graduated more than 8,000 potential workers by July 2012. However, only 12% of responding CIOs who know of the programs reported hiring its graduates.
The report authors noted that CIOs say they currently are looking to fill I.T. positions with workers who have specialized knowledge of health IT and/or how it can be applied in clinical settings. Most survey respondents said they primarily were interested in applicants with backgrounds in health I.T., with some reporting that they were looking for applicants with backgrounds in clinical informatics or having some clinical experience.
Applicants with I.T. experience in non-healthcare settings and prospective employees who come from a non-I.T. health background also scored relatively well. However, applicants with only education but no experience, or those with only coding knowledge, ranked at the bottom of respondent preferences.
The College of Healthcare Information Management Executives (CHIME) is an executive organization serving CIOs and other senior health care I.T. leaders. The organization has 1,400 individual members and nearly 90 health care I.T. vendors and professional services firms. For more information, visit www.cio-chime.org
The full workforce survey report is available here.
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