Healthcare News & Insights

Work with local colleges to overcome health IT talent shortage

Finding qualified health IT pros is a struggle, but organizations may find ways to beat the competition by working with local colleges that offer health IT training programs.

Many organizations are struggling to find qualified health IT pros to work on EHR implementations and other projects. In fact, 67% of health executives say they’re experiencing a shortage of health IT talent according to a recent report from the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives (CHIME).

That was up from 59% who were experiencing the same struggle in 2010. The staffing shortage is creating some challenges for healthcare organizations — for example, 59% are concerned that a staffing shortage in the IT department could keep them from qualifying for federal incentives for meaningful use of EHRs. In addition, 71% said a shortage could jeopardize a current or planned IT project.

But some of those staffing woes could be helped in the near future thanks to new health IT training programs. One example is federally funded Health IT Workforce Development Program, which is comprised of training programs at 82 community colleges across five regions. The goal is to train at least 10,500 new health IT pros through programs that can be completed in six months or less.

Those training programs have been popular so far — especially among experienced IT and health care pros looking for new job opportunities, according to a recent Bloomberg article.

For example, the Midwest Community College Health Information Technology Consortium, one of the regions of the federal initiative, has enrolled 6,700 students, of which 3,700 have graduated. And many of the students entered the program with 10 or more years of experience in either IT or health care. That included 39% who had already earned a bachelor’s degree, and 17% who had a master’s degree.

Many healthcare organizations may have employees on staff interested in a health IT career — and for those organizations struggling to find health IT talent, one solution may be to send interested staffers to one of those training programs.

Unfortunately, demand for health IT pros will only increase as EHRs become more common, and other initiatives such as health information exchanges start to get off the ground. In addition to training current employees, healthcare organizations can boost their health IT recruiting efforts by working with local colleges that offer training programs — for example, by developing an internship program. That will make sure the organization gets early access to a new talent pool.

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