In a recent HDM blog, "Get a Job," Rob Tholemeier generated considerable feedback when he argued that health care vendors and organizations complain of a health I.T. talent shortage but often don't pick the right candidates.

"The best I.T. people tend to not be credentialed," he wrote." If they have degrees, they're typically in music or the visual arts--lines of study that require being aware of the rhythm of things and non-verbal communications. Computer science degrees are particularly bad fits for I.T. careers--CS degrees should remain in academia. Software engineers work for the I.T. vendors.

"Great listeners with terrific problem solving skills are perfect for I.T. For example I would rather have one Data Warehousing Institute Certified Business Intelligence Professional candidate (yes, CBIP) working on ANY health care analytic project than hundreds of Stanford M.D.s, Berkeley PhD.s, Yale JDs, Columbia BSNs or MIT MSEEs."

Here's some reader feedback:

* "I agree with your comments, and the healthcare information technology industry will have to identify candidates from other industries such as financial services who have domain expertise in technologies that are not prime time in healthcare as of yet. This includes, master data management, metadata management, data quality, enterprise information integration and complex events processing. As of 2Q11, only 1% of the US hospitals have achieved the HIMSS Analytics EMR Adoption Model Stage 7 (aka data warehousing). Simple analytical systems are complex to develop and with a global shortage of qualified business intelligence professional, the health care industry will face some interesting challenges to address meaningful use, ICD-9/ICD-10, HIPPA 5010, ACOs and more data driven requirements."

* "I don't disagree that certifications can obscure a professional's true value in the health I.T. setting. However, this article is implying there are only two roads: formal clinical training or some type of I.T. experience. But you are missing a third road that many working in the industry increasingly take: formal education in biomedical/health informatics. Individuals trained in informatics usually understand the intersection between the clinical and I.T. worlds, and are very effective at implementing and advancing the use of systems. That is certainly what we aim for in our program at Oregon Health & Science University."

* "Thank you for this badly needed article. I have been working for months to find another job as an HIT project manager after having been let go by an EHR re-seller as they downsized. I have 15 years experience in the financial industry as an I.T. project manager and workflow re-engineering specialist, but I have experience with only one EHR product and I hold no certifications. No one wants to hire me because I have no health care experience, I am not a PMP, not Six-Sigma certified, not a scrum master, etc. But I am an experienced project manager and expert problem solver, an intuitive business thinker and a meticulous planner. I have shared this article with recruiters from four agencies I have been working with. These agencies need to understand as well that their clients' bias toward degrees can work toward their own detriment."

* "Certifications are (often) a crutch, used by screeners or interviewers, when they lack the technical/business/application knowledge to personally decide whether a candidate has the skills and knowledge to fit an advertised need. As a hiring manager, I NEVER let Human Resources screen out ANY application that comes in for a position I'm filling; I personally read them all, and decide who's most interesting. NOTHING affects your likelihood of success more than the people you hire, so that's way too important to delegate."

* "Over-focus on experience with a particular application is certainly a part of the complaint about not enough qualified people. Another aspect is just the time: organizations everywhere are so reluctant to hire based on fear of the economic situation. Most large organizations have effective 'freezes' on hiring. They aren't official, they just hold decisions on hiring at such a high level that it is effectively a freeze."

* "While I agree that there is much value to be had in including those who have experience in areas outside of the health care sector, how these folks get up to speed on the specialized needs of this industry is essential. As someone who had a ton of health care experience and NO technology experience when I started with a health care technology company 10 years ago, I quickly realized that collaboration and information sharing across the team was essential to successful implementations.  It is the intimate understanding of the workflows in which technology is used, the needs of users, the other technologies that are needed in concert with strong technical knowledge, project management skills, etc.  Finding ways for folks with this subject matter expertise to work and support the work of those with strong technical experience will make us all successful."


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