Switch to New Coding System Helps Spur Health Care IT Hiring

Susan Hall
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2011 Health Care IT Survey

The race is on for hospitals nationwide to deploy EMRs.

Despite some worries that health care hiring might slow with cuts to Medicare and Medicaid, the sector leads the market in IT job creation, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics job placement services.


The number of IT jobs in health care is expected to grow by 20 percent annually through 2018, "much faster than average," according to PCWorld.com. (eWEEK reports on a Computer Economics survey saying that health care is where the IT hiring is taking place, but it's based on a small sample.)


In addition to the federal impetus to move to electronic health records, my colleague Carl Weinschenk recently called health care "a mobile device and application development lab," working the kinks out in privacy, security and usability.


The PCWorld story cites numbers from job site SimplyHired.com that health care IT positions have increased 67 percent since November 2009, with the largest percentage of increase in jobs at the CIO and CTO level.


Another issue driving hiring: the federal government's requirement that health providers switch to the latest version of the coding system, the International Classification of Diseases, or ICD-10, by Oct. 1, 2013. In a poll of health care organizations by staffing firm TEKsystems, 55 percent named staffing as the No. 1 challenge to the switch to ICD-10. Perhaps that's to be expected from a staffing company survey - but maybe not. The National Committee on Vital and Health Statistics called ICD-10 "an unprecedented work force challenge" in a 2010 letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.


Those responding to the TEKsystems survey listed four jobs that would be most in demand as the deadline looms:


  1. ICD-10 project managers
  2. Data architects
  3. Software developers
  4. ICD-10 coding specialists

Government Health IT quotes a statement by Allen Kriete, TEKsystems' executive director for health care, saying:

Without the right people in place to execute, ICD-10 implementations can drain an organization. Timelines are extended, budgets exceeded and current staff becomes overwhelmed.

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