Health IT Staffing: Time to Grow Your Own?

    Health care leaders continue to bemoan the difficulty in hiring IT staff even as they have myriad deadlines for federal mandates bearing down on them.

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    That’s part of the problem: With so little time to implement some of these technology initiatives, they want to hire people who can hit the ground running – creating a bias against hiring skilled IT pros from other industries who lack health care experience. Then there’s the problem that IT salaries in health care lag those in other industries.

    For a second year in a row, respondents to the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society’s annual leadership survey citied staffing difficulties as the biggest barrier they face to IT implementation.

    Meanwhile, a report out of Atlanta illustrates the job growth in health technology. Job postings for health IT software development grew by 167 percent in Atlanta between 2010 and 2012, compared with growth of 61 percent nationally, according to an analysis by Burning Glass.

    Just as employers seeking data scientists are looking at developing those competencies within their own organizations, some health care leaders also advocate growing their own IT talent – from the ranks of clinical staff.

    Deborah Gaspar, chief nursing officer at 99-bed Memorial Hospital of Sweetwater County in Rock Springs, Wyo., says in an article at HealthLeaders Media:

    ”We can’t recruit skilled health system administrators who understand how the programs interconnect and how they connect to server capacity and how they connect to wireless capacity; how they are upgraded becomes an issue. This needs to be addressed industrywide.

    Nursing has always had to deal with shortages and we’ve learned how to train our own and that is what is going to have to happen in healthcare IT.

    …We have a couple of RNs who built our clinical system. They are both in their 20s and they are much more competent and capable at that stuff than I am…. We’re creating our own solutions. You have to survive so you do what you have to. Give people the abilities because there are people out there who want to do this stuff. You have to be patient and willing to groom them.”

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