Health Care IT Job Boom — And Its Challenges

    We’ve known that the federal push to electronic medical records would be a boon to tech jobs, since every doctor’s office, clinic and hospital would need help. Since medical people are, well, people-focused, it’s created a huge opportunity for consultants.

    A Bloomberg story on the tech jobs being created, however, inadvertently illustrates one of the issues. It starts off telling about a 56-year-old IT pro who took a position helping doctors, nurses and others with their EHR system — a position he was overqualified for.

    The industry, which keeps insisting that installing technology there is not at all the same as in any other vertical, puts huge emphasis on health care experience — systems such as Epic, Cerner and others — among its IT staff. At the same time, too few IT pros come from that background. With tight federal deadlines that health care organizations must meet, and with some foot-dragging, many health care organizations now are so time-pressured, they can’t really take on IT staff that require retraining.

    That means IT pros who want to shift into health care may have to take a step down just to get their foot in the door, Mike Bunch, managing director of healthcare IT consulting firm CTG Health Solutions, told me. New leaders for internal projects generally are chosen from within, so just getting into the organization is key.

    The Bloomberg story also points to the state of health insurance exchanges required under the health reform law by October 2013, all of which would need plenty of support workers — if the states were complying. But they’re not. The federal government will step in and manage the insurance marketplaces in about 30 states, so that work will be at the federal level. Only about 20 states are expected to set up their own exchanges.

    And with health reform part of the talks on the “fiscal cliff,” there’s even more uncertainty.

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