Under pressure from federal regulators to implement electronic health systems, healthcare providers are struggling to find and keep a technology staff in what is the fastest growing IT sector in the United States. A Healthcare Information and Management Systems (HIMSS) survey of 298 senior IT executives at healthcare firms found that 21% fear they won't be able to find the tech staff needed to complete an e-health system, including a massive, new medical coding system to be deployed on new mobile technologies. It was the second year in a row that respondents to an HIMSS survey listed staffing as the biggest barrier to implementing systems that meet new U.S. healthcare technology requirements.
The HIMSS survey found that 51% of respondents plan to increase IT staff in the next year, mostly personnel that can build clinical applications, such as computer physician order entry systems and electronic health records (EHR) systems. Staffers are also needed to build clinical applications (34%) and network and architecture support (21%). Eighteen percent of respondents said clinical informatics expertise is their biggest need, while another 18% cited IT security knowledge. Rounding out the top 10 were the need for staff for system integration tasks (14%), process/workflow, PC/server support and clinical transformation (each cited by 12% of respondents), and database administration, help desk and user training (each with 10%).
Along with higher compensation packages, one of the most popular incentives for IT staff to stay on is workplace flexibility, or letting people work from home whenever possible. Employees are also more likely to stay on the job when there are opportunities to move into managerial and project-focused positions. To keep IT workers with the requisite expertise, companies are now shifting their training programs, to focus less on classroom and computer training, and more on hands-on assistance. They are finding that you can't just give new employees technology and expect them to be successful. They are also looking into ways to boost the ROI for deployments of EHR systems that will enable them to aggregate patient data, as well as finding new ways of implementing the World Health Organization's ICD-10 classification system.
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