Tech Jobs Slow to Grow at Health Info Exchanges

Jobs with a health information exchange (HIE) looks like a great career opportunity. After all, the Obama administration provided $783 billion to set up state and regional HIEs to help incompatible healthcare information systems communicate and hopefully improve the quality and reduce the cost of care.

And then, the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC) spent $120 million for a workforce development program that includes a six-month junior college regimen and a university program that grants advanced certification or master’s degrees, curriculum development centers and a competency examination program.

But so far, the exchanges have fewer than five employees and they aren’t hiring new grads to fill their IT vacancies. Although 255 small, publicly-funded HIEs exist in the U.S., and 25 percent say they’re short on staff with IT experience, only three of the exchanges said they’d hired people who were trained in the ONC workforce development program according to a recent survey. The exchanges say new graduates need more hands-on technical experience, so they’re using consultants to fill the gap.

And then there’s the snail’s pace transition from paper to digital patient records. In fact, there may not be enough digitized information for public information exchanges to survive once the government funding dries up.

Finally, some hospital systems are creating their own HIEs. And while experts claim that those systems will eventually have to connect through a public entity, it will be a while before the onslaught of data and jobs reaches your local HIE.

Comments

  1. BY trothaar says:

    So basically, these “job training programs” result in diplomas that are worth less than toilet paper. What a surprise.

    Even if these graduates were deemed acceptable by employers, a job with an HIE is shaky at best. There’s a very good chance that ObamaCare is going to be struck down by the Supreme Court, repealed outright, or indirectly “repealed” via defunding…after which these HIE’s are going to immediately shut down.

    • BY Mark Feffer says:

      Well, you know, you’re making a blanket statement about Health IT training when this story is about a narrow segment. It says that small HIEs aren’t hiring people because they want people with more experience in the field, so they’re using consultants in the meantime. There are other parts of Health IT that are actively hiring and, that aside, this is pretty good news for consultants.

      As for saying Health IT jobs is a stretch. No one can say whether the Supreme Court is going to overturn the health care law. I’d argue quite the opposite — I believe it’ll be upheld, or at least most parts of it will. And there’ll be no de-funding while Obama’s president, since he’s sure to veto any such bill.

      But this isn’t about politics. To say there’s no opportunity in healthcare IT is kind of like saying tablets are a fad. Hospitals want to use technology more, as do health insurance companies, and even doctors are coming around. There are just too many advantages to it for everyone. Closing the door on getting up to speed on health technology is at best short-sighted.

      Mark

      • BY James Green says:

        I’m always beating up on dice for their baffling insensitivity to unemployed IT workers trying the regain there footing, and retrain for a different area of IT. Once again Mark you and Dice have it wrong. I’ve read a great deal about Health IT and who Hospital CIOs are hiring. Hospital CIOs want people with clinical experience(nurses, CNA, PCT, etc, etc) who have some IT training. These are your consultants and it’s a no brainier they would have ample opportunities because there are so few of them. What is disappointing is that IT professional with limit or no clinical experience are having a a hard time breaking into this field. Unemployed IT professionals have invested between 6 to 24 months of the Federal Governments Health IT training program yet cannot find a job. Until the government starts imposing fines on these hospitals for not implementing health IT Hospital CIOs are going to continue not hiring these trained and certified individuals.

        • BY Mark Feffer says:

          James, I’m not insensitive to unemployed IT workers, but I do get frustrated when those same people reject the idea of the very tactics that can help them. Yes, healthcare companies would prefer to get people who have clinical experience for many positions, but not all of them. And, as the sector grows, you can bet the job requirements will soften, because there’s still a lot of work to be done, government action or not. This trend’s not going away. As for having it wrong, well, this story simply shares what employers are saying. If you’re in the sector, it’s a good thing to know, whether you agree with them or not.

          But I really disagree with the idea that any kind of training is a bad thing, which a lot of people around here seem to believe. While it doesn’t work for everybody, it certainly works for many. And if you argue with the term “many,” you can’t argue with the word “some.” “Some’s” not the most encouraging word — unless you happen to be one of them.

          Besides, training isn’t a panacea. It’s one part of finding a job. If you don’t want to meet people in the sector you’re interested in, or take the time to create resumes and cover letters tailored to the employer you’re interested in, or go into interviews without doing homework beforehand, you’re going to have a tough time. And that tough time will have very little to do with whatever training or certifications you have, or don’t have.

          Best,

          Mark

          So you say I’m being insensitive, and I say I’m being realistic.

  2. BY James Green says:

    Mark, the fact is I personally went through the Federal retraining program and became certified in EHR implentation. Part of are training was to implement an EHR system at a Medical Facility. My classmate and myself were excited because we thought this hand on experience would lead to a job offer at this facility or other that implementing EHR. It was a very tough program and it took me a 12 months to complete. 6 months later only one, out of a class of 24, was offered a position and she was a nurse wanting to switch to Health IT, by the way I keep in contact with her (Networking) to see if other opportunities at her place of work. Mark I spend a lot of time tailoring my resume to IT jobs at hospital. No amount of Networking or resume tailoring is going to make for the 3 to 10 years of clinical/IT experience many of the EHR jobs want you to have.

    James

    • BY Mark Feffer says:

      James, I just don’t think you can generalize. I understand your frustration, I really do, and I’m not saying training programs, or any other single tool, are the magic bullet. I’m just saying that shouldn’t be easily dismissed.

      Mark

      • BY James Green says:

        No Mark you don’t understand my or the other 22 students frustration who can’t find employment. Who have played by the rules and lost their lively hoods incomes and homes.

  3. BY Technician says:

    nowadays our society has enjoyed the benefits of having modern technology.We are blessed with modern tools, which could perform to what seemed to be an impossible task in the past like retrieving information in a matter of seconds. However, this often comes with unforseen and undesirable consequences defeating the very objective in the first place. To my mind, modern technology is a bane than a boon.

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