When it comes to the hiring of information technology professionals, few industries have provided recruiters with as much work in recent years as healthcare. That picture won’t be changing anytime soon.

“The demand for IT professionals in the healthcare industry is still quite high,” says Donna Carroll, principal at Systems Personnel, which has specialized in finding healthcare IT professionals for 16 years. “In order to maintain compliance with meaningful use requirements, healthcare provider organizations find themselves in a fairly constant implementation mode of new systems, standards, data interfaces, polices, etc.”

While “the healthcare industry used to be considered far behind the times when it comes to information technology, that is no longer the case,” Carroll says. “I foresee the demand for skilled healthcare IT workers remaining high for some time to come.”

From meaningful use, to EHRs, to hospital mergers and acquisitions, nearly every top trend in healthcare today is driven or enabled by IT. In response, hospitals and healthcare providers are seeking more tech pros, with more skills, and with strong background in the industry.

So who is Carroll most actively seeking these days?

“I believe the area that sees the biggest demand right now is predictive analytics, because it has a real impact on patient outcomes,” Carroll confirms. Indeed, nearly every hire in healthcare today is about increasing efficiencies, reducing costs, and most importantly – improving the patient experience.

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Next up are mobile application developers, a job role that has skyrocketed in demand in several industries in the past two years. Carroll says that most physicians are not actually employees of the hospitals in which they are affiliated. They have their own offices and practices, may work in several hospitals or clinics, and they need to input and access patient data from countless locations on multiple devices.

The growth of mobile tech in healthcare, along with continued merger and acquisition activity, has further fueled the need for applications and systems integration professionals, Carroll says.

“Another area that we see huge demand for are data integration engineers. Integration is huge because you have disparate systems that need to communicate with one another, need to share data, and need to be able to run seamlessly so that providers can access patient data in order to make appropriate healthcare decisions for patients,” Carroll says. Obviously the aggressive pace of mergers and acquisitions in healthcare has had a lot to do with that.

Christopher Cornwall Principal at Searchlight Recruiters, which also focuses on the placement of healthcare IT professionals, agrees with Carroll, but adds IT security to his list.

“Healthcare is trying to deliver on improving the patient experience, and improving the overall health of populations, while reducing the cost of care,” Cornwall says. “These goals are creating real challenges. With security you have to make the system open so that providers can have access to the information they need, while at the same time be secure so that the information doesn’t fall into the wrong hands. We’re seeing a great deal of interest and efforts go into safeguarding those systems. Analysts and people at the top like the chief information security officer [CISO] are in very high demand.”

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With security you have to make the system open so that providers can have access to the information they need, while at the same time be secure so that the information doesn’t fall into the wrong hands.

But in order to attract talent, Cornwall says healthcare organizations need to change their mindset about recruiting strategies – focusing on relationship building, networking, and passive candidates.

“Recruiting needs to be an ongoing effort,” Cornwall says. “Be in constant contact with those people that you anticipate a need to hire. Use social media to stay in touch with those people and build a pipeline. Develop your brand as an organization. Have a positive work environment and a culture that encourages creativity and enables people to grow professionally.”

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